Delmarva's Poultry Industry: Doing More With Less - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delmarva's Poultry Industry: Doing More With Less

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Chicken in local poultry house. (Photo: WBOC) Chicken in local poultry house. (Photo: WBOC)

DELMARVA - It's a $3.4 billion industry.  Production and demand for chicken continues, but yet there are less people growing them on the Eastern Shore. 

"We do have less farmers, less growers that are raising birds and we also have less houses than we did 20 years ago," Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. Executive Director Holly Porter said.

Porter says technology is the main reason why growers are able to do more with less. 

"It really allows for one family farmer or maybe one person with a hired hand to be able to operate six or eight houses that 20 years ago would not have been possible. So it's made things more efficient in a lot of ways," Porter said. 

Especially for banker, turned chicken rancher Andrew McLean of Queen Anne's County.  McLean left the financial field when his family inherited acres of land. 

"Because we could put up the six poultry houses and create cash flow right away. It's consistent returns and you've got to think of it like a business," McLean said.

McLean says he focuses on making updates to each of his six poultry houses throughout the year.

"I'm constantly thinking about what I need to upgrade, what I need to replace and the tax implications of all of it," McLean said.

McLean says he can monitor each house by himself, all from his smartphone.  He can get alerts that something is off from wherever he is.

"If the temperature is too high or too low, I'll get an alarm. If the static pressure is too high or too low, I'll get an alarm," McLean said.

Porter says that shows her that the industry is becoming more efficient to keep up with the demand for bigger, healthier chickens. 

"We're having this moderate growth, all while we're seeing the wonderful impacts on the Chesapeake Bay with the grass coming back, the crabs are coming back. All of these things that are really important and we're doing it with less poultry growers and with less chicken houses now than what we did 20 years ago," Porter said.

But those strides forward are not just from growers, Porter says that is also credited to poultry companies and grain farmers. 

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