INDIANAPOLIS — When it comes to poultry production, farmers in Indiana pull out all the stops.
Chickens aren’t the only birds the Hoosier State uses to produce meat and eggs. In fact, Indiana ranks outside the top 20 in the U.S. in the total number of chickens, according World Population Review.
Despite the relatively small number of chickens in the state, Indiana still ranks second in the country in egg production, per AZ Animals. Iowa, which produces 15 billion eggs a year, is the only state Indiana trails in the rankings, according to the Iowa Egg Council.
The Hoosier State gains ground in the rankings thanks to its major duck-producing operation. Indiana is No. 1 in the country in commercial duck production.
In past years, Indiana has gathered 9.5 million eggs from its various poultry farms. Combined, poultry and eggs are the fourth-largest agricultural commodity in the state, totaling $1.18 billion in sales.
The Indiana Farm Bureau has reported that nearly 31 million ducks are raised in the U.S. each year. Most of the country’s duck products are exported to Asia.
The most popular duck breed raised in Indiana is the White Pekin, according to the Indiana Farm Bureau. White Pekin ducks are popular across the Hoosier State and the U.S. because their meat is more tender and less gamey than other ducks.
Per the Indiana Farm Bureau, four other duck breeds are commonly raised in Indiana — Anacona, Runner, Mallard and Buff Orphington. Buff Orphington and Anacona ducks are best known for their eggs and meat, while Runner ducks are renowned for their companionship, pest control abilities and feathers.
Numerous household products are also made with Indiana ducks. Oftentimes, their feathers are used in coats, pillows and blankets, per the Indiana Farm Bureau.
Counting wild ducks, more than 20 different types of the bird can be found in the Hoosier State. Wood, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Gadwell, American Wigeon, Northern Pintail and Bufflehead ducks are all native to Indiana, per birdadvisoris.com.
Two companies in Indiana help bolster the Hoosier State’s duck production numbers. Maple Leaf, located in Leesburg, and Culver Duck Farm, which is based in Middlebury, accounted for almost 60% of the duck products made in the U.S. in 2017, according to Iowa PBS.