In the first half of 2011, U.S. broiler meat production was 18.8 billion pounds, 4.8% higher than the same time in 2010, but this year-over-year growth in broiler meat production is expected to halt in the third-quarter due to an oversupply brought on by low demand.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest report, third-quarter production estimated at 9.4 billion pounds, 1.3% lower than in third-quarter 2010. Lower production is expected to continue in the fourth quarter, with production in the second half of 2011 expected to total 18.6 billion pounds, a decrease of 2% from the same period in 2010.
Over the first half of 2011, the number of broilers slaughtered was 4.3 billion, an increase of 2% from 2010 numbers. The other factor in broiler meat production growth during the first half of 2011 has been higher average live weights at slaughter: during the first six months of 2011, the average live weight at slaughter was 5.79 pounds, up 2.4% from the first half of 2010. In the second half of 2011, the number of broilers slaughtered is expected to be down significantly, though average bird weights at slaughter are expected to remain well above 2010 numbers.
Strong increases in production and a weak domestic economy have led to an increase in broiler meat stocks. Cold storage holdings at the end of the second quarter totaled 710 million pounds, 12% higher than 2010. Breast meat in cold storage was estimated at 155 million pounds, 47% higher than 2010. Stock changes for leg meat products were mixed, with holdings of drumsticks and leg quarters up 39% and 14%. Partially offsetting these increases were declines in the cold storage holdings for legs, thighs, and thigh meat. The estimate for third-quarter ending stocks was raised to 685 million pounds and the estimate for fourth-quarter ending stocks was increased to 700 million pounds.