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Raising Poultry

While there are different forms of poultry, the three most popular are chickens (which produce eggs) and turkeys. Let's look at how these two types of birds are raised in Minnesota.


There are two different kinds of chickens: Broilers and layers. Broilers are raised to become chicken meat for human consumers. Layers are raised to lay eggs. It takes a chicken about 15 weeks to be fully grown.

Broiler chickens are raised in an open-floor barn where they have constant access to fresh water and feed. They are not raised in cages. The barn floors are covered with bedding, and the birds are closely monitored by farmers. These barns keep them safe from predators, disease, and extreme weather conditions. They are fed primarily a mix of corn and soybeans.

Layers are fed a similar diet with added nutrients such as calcium to increase the strength of the outer shell of their eggs. Some layers are raised in special caging/housing systems that are also in enclosed barns. There are also chickens that are free-range and pasture-raised. Free-range chickens have access to both the outdoors and indoors. Pasture-raised chickens are primarily raised outdoors on pasture. There is also organic, in which chickens are raised according to the USDA's National Organic Standards. It's important to note that all organic chicken must be free-range, but not all free-range chickens are organic.


Like chickens, turkeys are raised in barns that protect them from predators, disease, and extreme weather conditions. They roam freely around the inside of the barn. They are fed a diet of corn and soybean meal mixed with vitamins and minerals. It takes about 75-80 pounds of feed to raise a 30-pound tom turkey. Thanks to scientific advancement and better farming techniques, today it takes less feed and time to raise a turkey that is larger than ones raised in years past. It takes about 30 weeks for a tom turkey to be fully grown.

Learn More!

The following websites provide more information about how poultry is raised.

From Farm to Table: The Journey of the All-American Chicken:

How Eggs Get to Consumers:

On the Farm: Raising Turkeys