Did you know? Kansas is currently the strictest state for raising chickens in the midwest.

20 Mar 2018


The table below outlines the major players in the poultry industry with a focus on the Midwest region for poultry setbacks.  Currently, there is a bill in the Kansas Senate that would reduce the setback law in Kansas while STILL keeping it the strictest in the Midwest, tied with Nebraska.

So what does this mean exactly? It means that with this amendment to the current setback law, there is a better definition of what a broiler chicken is (a chicken raised for its meat) and that a farmer can now raise up to 333,333 chickens vs. 125,000 within 1,320 feet (1/4 mile) from the nearest occupied house. This increase allows a farmer to make a profit, as the more birds you raise, the more you are paid.

Right now, the 4,000 foot setback for 125,000 birds has kept Kansas completely out of the broiler industry. The map below shows where poultry is currently being raised, and you can see that everyone around us, except Colorado, is raising chicken.

This billion dollar industry wants to come to Kansas though so how do we compromise? We could slightly reduce our setback law so that we match our neighbor to the north, at least up to 333,333 chickens, over that number, and we are the strictest in the country.

So, why this number? A LOT of research and study was done over the past several years by poultry experts at K-State, University of Georgia, Auburn University, University of Arkansas and several others, to determine the best balance between the number of birds living in a house and the amount of litter generated per square foot.  They then took this amount and studied exactly what was in that litter, and then studied soil and crop production to see how the organic fertilizer produced by chickens could be spread in the most environmentally friendly way on crop land to prevent overspreading of fertilizer and potential runoff issues.

Due to this research, K-State professors Dr. Scott Beyer and Dr. Peter Tomlinson as well as KDHE staff came up with an animal unit conversion number for broiler production at 0.003 birds.  Meaning, a farmer could build an 8 barn facility with 29,000 chickens in each barn and the resulting organic fertilizer generated from these barns could then be sold to farmers to use on cropland.

These scientists have developed best management practices that include soil sampling and testing, tillage practices, composting practices, and storage practices that these producers need to follow to maintain the most environmentally friendly and profitable operation possible. After all, organic fertilizer is a profitable hot commodity, so its behooves the producer to store it safely so that they can make the most profit off of it. These practices would be put in place as well for our area farmers if we should get poultry production in Kansas.

The graphic below gives an illustration of the states that are currently producing broilers and what states have the potential to expand their broiler production. Kansas has been identified as an ideal state for broiler production due to its abundance of corn and soybean crops for feed production as well as the ideal weather conditions and moderate temperatures that are optimal for bird growth.

Now that you know more than you ever wanted to learn about chicken poop, I'll close with this thought. We have an opportunity to set an example for the rest of the world on how to raise broiler chickens in the most environmentally responsible way possible, while also allowing our region to prosper. Let's join together to have open conversations about our thoughts, concerns, excitement, and fears. After all, we all love Montgomery County and want our beautiful county to thrive.  Call me if you want to join in this conversation - (620) 331-3830 or email Trisha Purdon.