Chickens and turkeys that are commercially raised today are the result of many years of selection and breeding of two or more breeds to continually improve productivity.
The chicken industry is made up of meat-producing chickens and egg-producing chickens. Egg-producing chickens are primarily birds of the White Leghorn breed. In some parts of the United States, consumers prefer brown eggs, and in those areas layers are crosses of Rhode Island Reds and Barred Plymouth Rocks. Most eggs are marketed whole as shell eggs. Additional products such as liquid eggs, dehydrated eggs and pre-cooked eggs have been successfully developed. Information about Missouri’s egg inspection and licensing can be found under the Division of Weights, Measures and Consumer Protection, commodity inspection program.
Meat-Producing Chickens and Turkeys
The modern meat-type chicken is derived from the deep-breasted Cornish breed and has been selected with an emphasis on producing meat rather than eggs. Further processing of meat chickens has led to many new products geared to the convenience-minded consumer, such as boneless, skinless breasts. The turkey industry has developed strains of birds with an emphasis on meat production and breast size, as the white meat has a higher market value in the United States. The turkey industry has also developed specialty products; however, whole turkeys are still quite popular, especially for holiday menus. The Missouri Agricultural Statistics Service can provide further information on Missouri’s poultry inventory.
Many pure breeds of poultry are raised for exhibition, hobby and/or breed preservation purposes. The “Standard of Perfection,” available through the American Poultry Association, www.amerpoultryassn.com/, is the standard by which exhibition poultry are judged. This book is the best reference to use when selecting a breed of birds and also when selecting individual birds for breeding stock. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy works to preserve rare breeds of livestock, including rare poultry breeds. These rare and/or pure breeds may be more suitable for small flock holders. There is increasing interest in raising and processing poultry on a small scale. For information regarding the Poultry Products Inspection Act exemption, please see the Meat Inspection Program Section.
Game birds such as quail, pheasant and chukar partridge are often raised as ornamental birds as well as commercially for game preserves and clubs. Game birds can also be an exotic menu addition for home and restaurant meals. Check the North American Game Bird Association’s website, www.mynaga.org/ for more information about game bird production. The Missouri Alternative Center provides information about alternative poultry enterprises such as pastured poultry and game bird production. Access the Missouri Alternative Center website at agebb.missouri.edu/mac/.
For information regarding processing of home-reared poultry and the “Poultry Products Exemption Act” refer to the Meat and Poultry Inspection program.
Missouri Poultry Health and Improvement Program
The primary focus of the poultry health and improvement program is to administer the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP). The NPIP is a state-federal-industry cooperative program that began in the 1930s to coordinate state efforts aimed at eliminating pullorum disease from poultry breeding flocks and hatcheries. Since the program’s inception, the NPIP has added provisions and changed programs to meet the changing needs of the poultry industry. The commercial poultry industry is free of pullorum disease after years of dedicated efforts by the states and poultry producers. However, outbreaks of pullorum disease occasionally occur and these outbreaks re-enforce the need for ongoing pullorum surveillance to maintain Missouri's federally granted Pullorum-Typhoid Clean State status. The last outbreak in Missouri was in 2004 and resulted in the direct depopulation of all poultry on 5 Missouri farms and 2 farms in Kansas. Infected poultry were shipped to 11 other states. These shipments resulted in testing and eradication costs for the customers and state agencies and may have potentially resulted in spreading pullorum disease to clean poultry farms.
Many states, including Missouri, require either a negative pullorum test within the past 90 days or participation in the NPIP for poultry to legally enter the state or be exhibited at public exhibitions (2CSR 30-2.40). A negative pullorum test is also required for a producer to legally sell day-old poultry and hatching eggs within the state of Missouri. The Poultry Health and Improvement Program encourages participation in the NPIP with a once-a-year pullorum test and other minimal requirements for record keeping and biosecurity. Flock certification and pullorum testing services are provided by advance appointment.
Since the program’s inception, the NPIP has added provisions and changed programs to meet the changing needs of the poultry industry. The NPIP offers programs for Salmonella enteritidis, Mycoplasma gallisepticum, Mycoplasma synoviae and Mycoplasma meleagridis and Avian Influenza. Participation in these additional categories may result in additional laboratory fees for the necessary testing.
Applications to participate in the NPIP
Applications to participate are available upon request. Once an application is completed, the producer should contact the Department of Agriculture to schedule a farm visit to perform required flock testing, flock inspection, hatchery inspection and any other requirements for participation. Each participant in good standing is issued an approval number to be used in shipping eggs and chicks. Participants are also informed directly of proposed changes to the program and other pertinent poultry information. Participation is then renewed on an annual basis and participants have the opportunity to be listed in the national NPIP Directory, which is published by the national NPIP office in Conyers, Georgia. Participants will also be listed in the Missouri Poultry Yearbook that is published each year. These directories are the best way to locate pullorum-free poultry.
For more information about the Poultry Health and Improvement Program, contact the Division of Animal Health at (417) 895-6861 or (573) 522-3378, or e-mail Larry.Forgey@mda.mo.gov.