Kentucky is best known for horses at this time of year, and the most recent Census of Agriculture shows horses aren’t the only livestock contributing to the agricultural economy. Results from the 2017 Census of Agriculture show that producers raised and sold over $5.7 billion worth of crops and livestock.
The 145th Kentucky Derby is May 4 and likely the winner will have been raised in Kentucky. In fact, 110 of the previous winners have been Kentucky born horses, including 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify. While horses are an important part of our agriculture, poultry, cattle, and several field crops contribute significantly to farm sales.
Production of chickens and eggs accounted for $1.3 billion in sales, the leading enterprise on farms in 2017. Most of the poultry is raised in Western and South Central Kentucky near grain production. Kentucky ranked 8th in the sale of chickens nationwide, and 14th in the sale of chickens and eggs.
Cattle can be seen all across the state dotting the Bluegrass pastures that give Kentucky its nickname. Almost half of all farms in the state raise beef cows and Kentucky ranks 8th in the nation for the number of beef cows on farms. Sales of cattle counted for $1.0 billion in sales and is second to poultry.
Horses and cattle eat a lot of grass from the pastures, but Kentucky farmers also cut grass to be made into hay. In 2017, our farmers harvested more than 4 million tons of hay from over 2 million acres.
And then there’s corn and soybeans, with combined sales of more than $1.75 billion. Much of the corn and soybeans which are produced are converted livestock feed for poultry and hogs. Some of the corn is also marketed to the many distilleries in the Commonwealth.
Tobacco production is declining, but Kentucky still ranks number one in tobacco farms in the United States. In 2017, more than 2,600 of our farms grew this crop dropping from about 4,500 tobacco farms in 2012.
As you can see, Kentucky has a diverse agriculture. Learn more about the livestock, crops and producers in the Bluegrass state from the 2017 Census of Agriculture.