Njavica, New Jersey — For the past six months, there’s been nothing but chickens in the city.
But now, after a year of drought and extreme heat, the city is once again seeing a surge in chicken production.
In a move that may make New Jersey the largest producer of chicken in the world, the state-owned, $1.4 billion poultry operations in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut are once again thriving, with about 50,000 acres (17,000 hectares) of cropland and more than 40,000 chicken roosters, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
“The state is seeing a resurgence in chicken operations,” said Bob Jorgensen, a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) spokesman.
The resurgence has been spurred by warmer winters and a surge of bird flu, but it’s also been driven by a variety of factors, including improved farming practices and improved public health.
“There’s more demand for the meat,” said Jennifer Wessel, president of the National Chicken Council.
The USDA estimates that between 2010 and 2019, more than 1.6 million chickens were slaughtered in the U.S., up from just 749,000 in 2010.
“It’s a massive boom for New Jersey,” Jorgenson said.
“They have a lot of people working for them and they are producing very good, high-quality chickens,” he said.
New Jersey is one of the fastest growing states for poultry production, with more than 15,000 farms in operation, according the USDA.
The state’s chicken industry has doubled over the past three years, according a USDA report.
The state’s farm supply is also expanding, thanks to increased imports from China and Canada.
“Our poultry farmers are doing so well,” said Tom Fauci, executive director of the New Jersey Farm Bureau.
“I have not seen a decline in poultry production in years.”
The chicken industry in New York is also thriving.
Since the beginning of the decade, New Yorkers have seen an average of more than 4 million chickens a year, according USDA.
And as the U,D.P.D. has expanded its poultry farm inventory, demand for poultry in New Yorkers has also skyrocketed, according Wessel.
New York has seen an almost 50 percent increase in the number of roosts for chickens over the last two years.
“This is a tremendous boon for our poultry industry, as we see a huge increase in demand for roosting in New Yorker households,” said Wessel of the DEP.
The poultry industry in Connecticut is also growing.
Since 2010, the number in the state’s aviary has more than doubled, with new roost beds and more chicks available for rooster sales.
New Connecticut has also seen an explosion in chicken-related businesses.
Since 2007, the poultry industry has grown by a total of nearly $1 billion, with rooster production at about one million acres.
“You have a chicken industry that is exploding,” said Joe O’Neill, CEO of the Connecticut Aviary.
The chicken farm industry in Minnesota has also grown, with the state now producing more than half of the nation’s chicken and eggs, according New Minnesota State Rep. Tim Wirths, D-Minneapolis.
“The number of poultry operations has grown from two in the late 1980s to more than one in every four of the state,” he added.
But the state has seen its share of chicken-associated businesses drop since the recession.
The poultry industry is also struggling to compete in the global chicken-farming market.
The United States is now home to about 30 percent of the world total of crops for livestock production, according U.N. statistics.
The European Union, China and South Korea account for most of the rest, according Tokek, the University of Minnesota Extension.
D of New Jersey is also experiencing an uptick in the chicken industry.
Since 2008, the chicken-producing counties have grown by about 12 percent each year, and the number rose to about 150,000 by 2019, according data from the state Department of Natural Resources.
The new demand for chicken from New Jersey has been driven in part by warmer temperatures, which are making it difficult for New York farmers to get their crops to market faster.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Jorgensen of the drought.
“It’s very hard to do business here.”
But the New York poultry industry also has some positives to take away from the tough situation.
“We’re seeing more people coming in,” said Lenny Zeller, president and CEO of American Eagle Poultry.
“We’re actually getting more people into the business.”