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Arkansas poultry industry takes big share of market

The Arkansas poultry industry is expected to produce $3 billion to $4 billion in revenue in 2006, says Frank Jones, Arkansas Extension poultry specialist.

When Jones tosses out facts about the poultry industry, one can’t help but be impressed.

“Arkansas is the nation’s second leading chicken producer, third in turkey production and eighth in table egg production. We produce more than 1.2 billion chickens, 29 million turkeys and 3.4 billion eggs per year.

“The turkeys produced in Arkansas would be enough to fill over 12,000 refrigerated semi-trucks. If the eggs were all broken out, they would fill a space over two and a half times the size of the interior of the Louisiana Super Dome.”

Poultry products are tasty and economical. Chicken meat is the most commonly eaten meat in the United States. A wide variety of low-cost, high-quality chicken and turkey products are available to consumers, and the protein in the egg products is the highest quality food protein known, says Jones.

More than 50,000 Arkansans have jobs thanks to the poultry industry. Employees can be found at self-contained poultry complexes, hatcheries, processing plants and feed mills, or they may work with birds in the field.

Poultry and egg producers strive to make their products uniform and fresh, Jones notes. He says producers aim for the best product to meet individual consumers’ needs.

“Products that are appealing to consumers on the East Coast may not be appealing to consumers in Arkansas.”

The good news is that chicken and turkey meats are high in protein and low in cholesterol, making them among the healthiest meats available. In addition, numerous studies of the health effects of the human diet have shown that egg consumption isn’t related to coronary heart disease.

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