Contract Poultry Farming

Tyson Foods is one of the leading supporters of American agriculture and we know that without successful farmers we do not have a chicken business. We pay more than $800 million annually to more than 4,000 independent poultry farmers who contract with us.

Tyson Poultry Farmer – Jacque 

Farmer Jacque and her husband grew up farming. They know the value of hard work and wanted to pass that on to their kids. She’s keenly focused on animal welfare. She knows when she goes to the store and sees that red Tyson label that the other farmers have worked just as hard as her family. She wants to make sure that she supports Tyson Foods the way Tyson Foods has supported her. She says the name Tyson represents quality, it represents hard work, it represents animal welfare and everyone working together to advocate for a healthy, happy animal.

We're Committed – Vinh

Farmer Vinh left a job as a systems administrator for the opportunity to farm so that he could see his efforts pay off and to have something to leave to his children. He’s thankful for the help and support from his Tyson Foods field tech. For Vinh, it's more than just a reputation; it's about producing good, quality product for the consumer. And he says farming is one of the best decisions he’s made!

American Made: Is Tyson Chicken Produced in the USA? 

Meet Bill and Jeff. Bill is a Truck Driver for Tyson Foods and Jeff is a poultry farmer. They’ve been friends for 5 decades. They grew up together and spent their whole life in the same community. Jeff is thankful for the oversight, technology and advancements in the American farming industry. As Jeff says, farmers are important and he’s built something pretty special.

We’re Committed – Grant

Farmer Grant is looking forward to passing down his farm to his son. Poultry farming has made his diversified operation financially stable enough to do that. He believes you get out of it what you put into it with poultry farming. He takes good care of his chickens and he sees the results when he sells them. He takes pride in feeding the world. He knows chicken doesn’t just come from grocery stores, it comes from farms.

Frequently Asked Questions
What is contract poultry farming?
What is contract poultry farming?

The practice of farmers raising chickens under contract for poultry processing companies has been around since the 1930s and is the industry standard. Tyson Foods has been working with poultry farmers on a contract basis since the late 1940s and it’s been a relationship we believe works well for both the farmer and the company. We supply the birds and feed, and provide technical advice, while the poultry farmer provides the labor, housing and utilities. This cooperation between Tyson Foods and family farms increases efficiency and quality, while maintaining affordable prices for consumers.

The average farmer has been raising chickens for Tyson Foods for 15 years. Some farm families have been raising chickens for us for three generations.

What are the benefits for farmers?
What are the benefits for farmers?

Contract farming insulates the farmer from the risk of changing market prices for chicken and feed ingredients such as corn and soybean meal, which represents the majority of the cost of raising chicken. So, farmers’ compensation is not dependent on what the feed costs or prices at the grocery store.

How long have most contract farmers been raising chickens for Tyson Foods?
How long have most contract farmers been raising chickens for Tyson Foods?

The average contract poultry farmer has been raising chickens for Tyson Foods for 15 years. Some farm families have been raising birds for us for three generations. We frequently receive inquiries from additional people interested in raising chickens for us.

How long are Tyson Foods’ contracts with poultry farmers?
How long are Tyson Foods’ contracts with poultry farmers?

Our contracts with farmers are typically three to seven years or longer.

How are the farmers for broiler chickens paid?
How are the farmers for broiler chickens paid?

We provide poultry farmers with written contracts detailing how payments will be calculated. Poultry farmers are essentially paid for how well they take care of the chickens and how much weight the birds gain while they’re on the farm. We use a performance-based incentive system that rewards poultry farmers who effectively convert the feed we provide into weight gain in the birds they raise. The payment formula includes such factors as the number of birds, the amount of feed used, the performance of their flock compared to those raised by other contract farmers and the weight of the birds delivered to the processing plant.

Is Tyson Foods the only poultry company using this payment system?
Is Tyson Foods the only poultry company using this payment system?

The performance-based pay program we offer farmers is not unique to Tyson Foods. It’s used by many poultry processing companies in the U.S. to determine farmer compensation.

How much money does a farmer make?
How much money does a farmer make?

Income from chicken farming varies and depends on a number of factors. For some farmers, it’s a sole source of income. For many, it’s supplemental income to another job or the raising of crops or other livestock. In fact, a 2014 STUDY BY THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE FOUND that the median income of contract poultry farmers exceeds other farm households.

Are there federal regulations protecting broiler chicken farmer rights in a contract relationship?
Are there federal regulations protecting broiler chicken farmer rights in a contract relationship?

The poultry processor-broiler chicken farmer relationship is extensively regulated by federal law. For example, by law farmers are entitled to:

  • A written copy of their contract with the poultry company.
  • Information detailing how much they are paid.
  • Information explaining how a contract can be cancelled.
  • Right to a 90-day written notice of the processor’s intention to terminate the contract.
  • Right to terminate the contract with the processor by giving a 90-day written notice.
  • Right to discuss their contract with outside parties.
  • Right to join an association of farmers.
Do chicken farmers need to take on debt to start or expand their business?
Do chicken farmers need to take on debt to start or expand their business?

Chicken farming is like any other business; people often have to borrow some money to start, improve or expand their operations. Each of our contract chicken farmers must decide on their own the size and scope of their operations and how much debt they are willing to take on.

Do you require farmers to upgrade their chicken houses?
Do you require farmers to upgrade their chicken houses?

Other than improvements, maintenance, or repairs to address animal well-being issues, we do not require equipment or housing specification upgrades in the middle of contracts. In recent years, the technology to modernize chicken housing has become more widely used in the industry and benefits are better known, so we require farmers to meet a set of housing specifications that are outlined in the contracts. The benefits of more modern housing include a more comfortable living environment for the birds with improved ventilation and more uniform temperatures through the barn. It also saves energy to heat and cool the house which is a savings for the farmer.

Does Tyson Foods help chicken farmers experiencing problems with the performance of their farm?
Does Tyson Foods help chicken farmers experiencing problems with the performance of their farm?

We work closely with our farmers, including regular visits from our Service Technicians and Animal Welfare Specialists to provide technical advice , answer questions and ensure best animal management practices. If a farmer’s operation is not performing well, we have a program in place designed to help them get back on track.

What types of rights do farmers have as part of their contract?
What types of rights do farmers have as part of their contract?

All farmers who grow chickens for Tyson Foods have rights, which are part of their contract. The rights are outlined in the CONTRACT POULTRY FARMERS’ BILL OF RIGHTS.

Related Blog Posts

Committed to Enhancing Communications with Poultry Farmers

Poultry Growers

by Doug Ramsey

As part of our journey to continually live our purpose, we’re launching several initiatives aimed at enhancing communications and transparency with the thousands of independent farmers who grow chickens for our company.

Yesterday we mailed every farmer a copy of the CONTRACT POULTRY FARMERS’ BILL OF RIGHTS along with a note explaining that we’re developing an advisory council made up of farmers and we’ll be investing in new communications technology with our growers in mind.

From Farm to Family Table: Butler and Geurin Family Farms

Geurin Family

by Morgan Watchous

Family farms are more than a business, they are a livelihood, and they are raising the next generation of farmers.

To learn more about how the families we work with operate, we sat down with the Butlers and Geurins–two families who have owned and operated their own family farms for multiple generations in Northwest Arkansas.

From Farm to Family Table: Stoni Jo, Poultry Breeder
 

Stoni Jo Gates

by Morgan Watchous

Where does the food we put on our family tables come from? Who grows, harvests and prepares it for us?

More of today’s consumers want to know the story behind our food. Beginning at the farm and emerging as a culinary creation on our tables, there’s a journey to maintaining a robust and sustainable food system. To dive deeper into the story, we sat down with poultry farmer Stoni Jo, whose family-owned farm contracts with Tyson Foods, to hear how her role as a poultry breeder contributes to the food system–and how she plays a fundamental role in preparing good food for family tables.

Farmer-Focused, American-Owned, Globally Minded
 

Farmer

by Chad Martin

I’ve recently had the great fortune to be appointed to lead the poultry business for Tyson Foods. Learning about the chicken business is both humbling and exciting since my background is in Fresh Meats, which includes beef and pork.

Each business is a different animal—no pun intended—with its own unique qualities. But in my onboarding, one common, critical factor has been reinforced for me: each relies on independent farmers.