Corn Prices Demand Careful Evaluation of Poultry House Conditions

November 2012 marked a milestone for Georgia farmers: it was the first time the state ever imported corn. The reason? Last summer’s severe drought sent corn prices skyrocketing. The push for more ethanol made things worse, which in turn made poultry growers who use corn as a raw material in feed scramble to keep up with rising prices. Even today, corn inventories remain at historically low levels and the year’s weather reports make it hard to be confident in a good 2013 crop.

What does this mean to the bottom line of poultry producers? The University of Georgia estimated that poultry companies shelled out an extra $430 million in feed costs in 2012 due to higher corn prices. For consumers, that equated to a rise of 6.2 cents per pound for chicken according to the USDA.

These big numbers make it clear that anything that negatively impacts feed conversion is a huge drain on company and producer profits. Ammonia-caused performance decline is one variable that must be evaluated. Consider this: birds challenged with 50 PPM ammonia lose 8 points feed conversion. With feed at $325/ton, the loss on 20,000 birds is $1,690 in lost feed conversion per house. The loss can reach as high as $84,500 per week for a million bird per week complex. That doesn’t even factor in condemnations, paw quality and downgrades due to ammonia and bacterial challenges.

Contact your Jones-Hamilton representative to learn more about the full effects of ammonia, even at low levels, and what you can do to drive higher profits even in light of higher corn prices.