Animal Units (AUs) are equal to 1,000 animal pounds, for example, an average mature 1,400 lb cow is 1.4 animal units, broilers and laying hens are 0.033 AUs. 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.)

 What this means is that the nearly seven-hundred thousand laying hen AUs in the Midwest translate to an average of 20.2 million individual animals.

A strong motivator for farmers to raise animals in the Midwest is that there are feed sources grown in abundance here, additionally, the growth of the animal sector drives demand for feed. In the Midwest Iowa is by far the largest egg producer which is a function of the number of laying hens, if the analysis is extended to all U.S. states, Iowa continues to hold the number one spot. The sharp 2015 decline in laying hen AU was caused by an outbreak of the avian influenza.

Iowa has increased 13 percent (roughly 30,000 AUs) in the last decade going from 191,916 laying hen AUs in 2004, to 220,597 AUs in 2016.

A hog report of the same nature as this report will complete this series of Midwest animal unit reports.

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.