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USDA sees higher poultry production

The USDA's latest industry outlook shows that broiler meat production is on the rebound, spurred by rising chick placements. Reportedly, production could even top year-ago levels by Q4.

While broiler production is seen down about 2% in second-half 2009 compared with the prior year, broiler product prices are expected to rise, especially if export demand remains high.

Due to higher broiler meat prices, chicks placed for growout are on the increase. By the start of Q4, the USDA expects chick placements to be down only slightly from a year ago, pushing broiler meat production in the quarter to just above the level seen in 2008.

Prices for many broiler products have been strengthening over the past several months due to lower production and stock levels, although prices for most broiler products in May were still slightly below the previous year, the USDA said.

Overall broiler meat production in Q3 is pegged at just above 9 bln pounds, which is a drop of 4.6% from last year. In the second quarter, broiler meat production is expected to decline 6%, to a total of 8.87 bln pounds, with chick placements down 4-6% and average weights at slaughter running close to those of a year earlier.

In April, broiler meat production fell 6.3% from the previous year to 3 bln pounds. Processors reported slaughtering 721 mln broilers in April, down 6.6% from a year ago. The average liveweight of the birds at slaughter was 5.57 pounds, down slightly from a year earlier. There was a small increase in the average meat yield per bird.

US exports of broiler meat rose 9.5% during the first 4 months of 2009, to a total of 2.3 bln pounds, largely due to bigger shipments to Mexico and China/Hong Kong that offset a strong decline in exports to Russia, USDA said.

Turkey meat production is expected to decline strongly throughout 2009, but then to grow slightly in 2010. Still, turkey meat production in 2010 is seen down 5% from 2008.

Natalie Berkhout

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