There are many animal industries across Alabama, but the poultry industry brings more revenue than any other in the state. Alabama poultry provides more than 85,000 jobs and is responsible for over sixty-five percent of farming revenues for the state. That is more than fifteen billion dollars. Alabama is also one of the top poultry producers in the country. An average adult can eat around seventy-five pounds of poultry each year, and the consumption of chickens continues to grow,
Being a farmer is not just a “nine to five” job. Being a farmer is your life. Owning a farm requires a person that is dedicated to the business and to put one-hundred percent effort into it. My family owns and operates a poultry farm and there is constant work to be done. There are six chicken houses on the farm, with each holding around 40,000 birds.
Family owned farms are great in many aspects. One reason is that the entire family can participate and help with the farm. Another is children can learn the responsibilities of how important it is to care for living animals and also watch them grow and mature. Baby chickens, otherwise known as bitties, arrive to farms sometimes just hours old. They stay in the houses for six to seven weeks and then are ready to collect, so there are plenty of educational experiences to be had.
At the farm, several days ago, my little cousin Lydia Grace, found a black baby chick. A new shipment of chickens had just arrived. Black bitties are considered “good luck” in the chicken farming business, and we were able to find a total of five of them in one house! The newly hatched chicks will sometimes follow a person that is walking around inside the house, because they think that the person is their mother. Lydia Grace probably had at least a hundred bitties following her around at any given moment, which she thought very unamusing and replied by saying, “I’m not your mother!,” to the chickens. At one time, she started singing the famed song “Let it Go,” from the Disney movie Frozen.
Being able to spend time with the family and also playing with the baby chicks is always a good time. But, eventually you must put your boots on and get to work.