Animal Units (AUs) are equal to 1,000 animal pounds, for example, an average mature 1,400 lb cow is 1.4 animal units, a layer or broiler chicken is 0.033. These measurements are calculated to make the data comparable across species, and allow for large scale trend analysis. (Additionally, to understand more about the way animal units are calculated for capacity purposes in Iowa see the DNR’s website here.)

The Midwest has a high demand for animal feed, this concentration of animal units in the Midwest drives feed production. The amount of feed produced in the Midwest also and encourages the proximity of animals to this high production area. Of the Midwest states Missouri (880,671 AUs) has the largest number of broiler animal units, the next state is Ohio (264,502 AUs) which is 30 percent of the number of broiler AUs in Missouri in 2016. Trends in market share of Midwest broiler production have stayed relatively steady over the last decade. The most significant growth in the Midwest broiler industry has been in Ohio and Wisconsin with increases since 2005 of, 117 percent and 64 percent, respectively.  Iowa has decreased nearly 50 percent in the last decade going from 250,000 animal units in 2005 and decreasing to 131,000 animal units in 2016.  

Turkey, dairy cows, laying hens, and hog reports of the same nature as this report are forthcoming.

Preston Lyman is a Research Analyst with Decision Innovation Solutions (DIS). DIS is an Iowa-Based economic research firm which provides regular farm economics research and analysis to the Iowa Farm Bureau staff and members.