Roger Gates: Broilers represent Georgia's top agricultural commodity

Roger Gates

Georgia’s No. 1 agricultural commodity are broilers, according to the 2017 Farm Gate Value Report, compiled by the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development. A broiler is a chicken raised specifically for meat production.

An estimated value of $4.4 billion was generated by broiler production. This represents one-third of the state’s agricultural economy. Egg production, the No. 3 commodity, added a value of just more than $850 million. Total value generated by these two poultry industries combined is greater than the remaining eight commodities which comprise Georgia’s top 10. The poultry industry has a huge impact on the economy in Georgia, and University of Georgia Cooperative Extension specialists are committed to helping the commercial poultry industry stay up to date on the most current problems and trends.

The UGA Department of Poultry Science hosts the 2019 Georgia Layer Conference on Monday, Sept. 23, followed by the 2019 Georgia Broiler Conference on Wednesday, Sept. 25.

Bruce Webster, professor and Extension poultry specialist in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), organizes the Georgia Layer Conference at the Georgia Poultry Lab in Gainesville.

“It’s an educational program where we provide various updates and topics that we think are interesting and timely to the needs of the layer industry,” Webster said. “We offer these presentations annually for leaders of the industry and individuals who are responsible for the direct management of the flocks, such as production managers, service technicians and flock owners.”

This year the talks focus on water quality, water systems in poultry houses, ectoparasites in alternative housing systems, coccidia (which are parasites) control in layers, false layer syndrome, biosecurity audits and lighting sources for layer facilities. Additionally, Chad Gregory, president and CEO of the United Egg Producers, will present his thoughts on the future of the egg industry.

Brian Fairchild, professor and Extension poultry scientist at CAES, organizes the annual Georgia Broiler Conference at the Oconee County Civic Center in Watkinsville.

“It’s an opportunity to hear speakers speak on topics that are of importance to the industry,” Fairchild said. “We want to provide the latest information on current trends and issues that broiler growers and companies are facing now and in the future.”

Topics for the broiler conference include an update on health issues from the Georgia Poultry Laboratory, current applications of robotics for housing, breast meat diseases and interventions and moisture control in poultry housing.

In addition, Mike Giles, president of the Georgia Poultry Federation, presents an update at both conferences on the federation's current activities as well as issues the industry may encounter over the next three to five years. According to their website, “The Georgia Poultry Federation is a nonprofit trade association which represents the poultry industry in Georgia, the nation's leading broiler producing state. The federation was founded in 1951, and since that time has represented the interests of the entire poultry industry at the state and federal level on legislative and regulatory matters. Our work includes support for growers who produce the chicken and eggs at the farm level and the poultry companies which process and sell the many wholesome poultry products throughout the world.”

Program brochures for both conferences can be found on the UGA Poultry Science website at Those interested in attending can register online for the Georgia Layer Conference or the Georgia Broiler Conference. Pre-registration ends Friday, Sept. 20.

Roger Gates is the agricultural and natural resources agent for University of Georgia Extension, Whitfield County. Contact him at

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