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How Many Chickens Are In The World?

When you think about the numerous creatures on this green and blue planet, you may think that humans have the largest population. That is not the case. There are other animals — livestock — that far outnumber humans. No, it’s not cows. They number around 1.5 billion. It’s not pigs, either. No, the animal with the largest population in the world is chickens. But just how many chickens are in the world? As of 2023, the population is estimated to be over 30 billion.

How Many Chickens Are In The World?

group of chickens outside

In 2020, the US Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stated that the global chicken population had topped 33 billion for the first time. Since 1990, this number has increased dramatically. Back then, chickens had a global population of 10.62 million. Now, you may be wondering why there are so many chickens in the world. What happened that made chickens so popular?

Time for a short history lesson.

In the 1920s, US farms were raising chickens for eggs and meat. Then Cecile Steele accidentally received 500 chicks instead of 50, and she decided to raise those chicks for meat. Thus started the “broiler industry,” where chickens are raised solely for meat. Shortly after that, World War II blasted the world into a state of economic upheaval. People started selecting chickens for either eggs or meat, leading to selective breeding to meet those needs. Broiler chickens were designed for meat. Layer chickens, for their eggs.

This efficiently led to an explosion in the chicken population, because you know had access to cheap chicken meat, thanks to all the broiler chickens being produced.

Fast forward to 2020, when the world was on the brink of a pandemic. During the coronavirus, many people, especially in North America, took to raising their own chickens in their backyards. That led to another small spike in the chicken population. Prior to the coronavirus, about 8% of US households had chickens. Now, that number is larger, boosting the population of chickens in the world to an estimated 34 billion.

How Many Chickens Are In The US?

The latest statistics from 2020 say that the US has the greatest number of chickens in the world — over 9.2 billion. That means that there are more chickens in the US than there are people. The majority of these chickens were broiler chickens, but some of them are backyard hens laying eggs for a family or community.

Chicken Production By State

Wondering where all these chickens are located? In 2021, the state of Iowa had the greatest number of laying hens, around 48.8 million. Following that was Indiana at 35.4 million and Ohio at 35.1 million.

For broiler chickens, Georgia came in at 1.3 billion. Alabama had 1.17 billion, and Arkansas brought up the rear with 1.05 billion. However, there are plenty of other states producing both layer and broiler chickens, contributing to the massive population of 9.2 billion.

Statistic: Leading 10 U.S. states based on number of laying hens in 2021 (in 1,000 heads) | Statista

Where Are Chickens Mostly Found in the World?

You already know that 9.2 billion of the 34 billion chickens in the world are found in the United States of America. But what about other countries?

Here is a list of the countries with the highest population of chickens in the world after the US:

China4.7 billion
Indonesia3.5 billion
Brazil1.5 billion
Pakistan1.4 billion
Iran1 billion
India791 million
Mexico591 million
Russia496 million
Vietnam409 million

How Many Chicken Eggs Are In The World?

Knowing that there are over 30 billion chickens on the planet at any given time raises the question of how many eggs are generally produced in a single day and year. Interestingly, egg production alone is a $200 billion industry that is influenced by global events. You can imagine how many eggs are made and sold. Even though hens can only produce a single egg every 26 hours, with over 30 billion of them in the world, that is a lot of eggs.

In 2019, US layer hens produced over 113.25 billion eggs. That same year, China produced a whooping 661.79 billion eggs. If you do that math, that means that US hens are laying about 31 million eggs every day. China is producing around 181 million eggs per day.

woman selling fresh chicken eggs

How Many Chickens Are Used For Meat Around The World?

For more recent years, the numbers are still being tallied, but 68,795,221,000 chickens were killed for food in 2018. That averages to about 1.89 million broiler chickens per day. Most of them are under 1 year old.

No doubt, chicken meat is incredibly popular throughout the world, as are eggs. With eggs and chicken being part of the global economy, you may want to save money by having your own small flock running around the backyard.

How Many Chicken Breeds Are In The World?

Moving away from the topic of chicken production and consumption for a moment, let’s focus on just how many chicken breeds exist. Interestingly, despite there being over 30 billion chickens accounted for in the world, humans have yet to figure out how many breeds exist.

Hundreds of chicken breeds are already recorded and recognized. Some have been lost in time. Others are being discovered all the time. There are also bantam chickens that still need to be discovered.

That said, the two most populous breeds are those of Plymouth Rocks and Cornish hens in the US. These hybrids are selected for a gene that gives them large muscles, producing greater quantities of breast meat. White Leghorns are also incredibly popular, because they can produce up to 300 eggs during their first year.

The two most populous breeds are those of Plymouth Rocks and Cornish hens in the US.

Finally, you can watch this video, which beautifully visualizes the race for the number of chickens by country, starting in 1961:

Final Thoughts on The Chicken Population

How many chickens are in the world? Billions. Around 34 billion is that current estimate.That’s a lot of chickens. With more people turning to keeping backyard chickens, there is no saying whether the global population will rise or fall. Are you going to join those who have brought chickens home?