Rising propane prices impacting Alabama poultry farmers


MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala.- The nationwide price increase for propane is expected to adversely affect Alabama poultry farmers who use propane to heat chicken houses.

Prices for propane have almost doubled in 2021, topping $1 per gallon for the first time seasonally since 2014.

“To be honest with you, I’m nervous about what’s going to happen during the winter,” says Marshall County Poultry farmer George Sumners.

Sumners expects propane prices to be a challenge this winter for his family business.

“I don’t know what the weather will do, neither does anyone else, but all indications are propane prices are going to continue to go up,” Sumners said.

Sumners grew up on a farm and started his own more than 45 years ago. He raises broiler chickens and keeps flocks of chicken year-round. He has two 1,000 gallon propane tanks, to keep two chicken houses warm so baby chicks can grow.

“To heat a house up at 92 degrees requires quite a bit of propane gas which is getting more expensive every day,” Sumners said.

The Alabama Poultry and Egg Association says Alabama has about 2,5000 poultry producers and is the number two state in broiler production nationwide.

“Our broiler growers actually use the largest amount of propane, because that’s the birds that are grown from day of age to a nine-pound bird that goes to the grocery store or fast-food chain,” says Alabama Poultry and Egg Association Associate Director Ray Hillburn.

Sumners says it’s not uncommon to have to fill his propane tanks every two or three weeks. And the spike in propane prices means his profit margin will likely shrink.

Ultimately, poultry farmers will be the ones eating the extra costs to keep birds warm this winter season. The Alabama Poultry and Egg Association doesn’t expect the cost to be passed on to the consumer.

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