Fourth-quarter 2011 broiler meat production is forecast at 9 billion pounds, 5.1% below 2010 production, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest report.

The lower fourth-quarter production is expected to be driven by sharp declines in the number of birds slaughtered, but these declines are expected to be somewhat offset by an increase in average live weights. Preliminary slaughter data show a lower overall number of broilers slaughtered driven by reduced numbers of lighter birds, pointing toward higher average weights.


Broiler meat production in third-quarter 2011 was 9.53 billion pounds, 0.3% percent above the same period in 2010. This increase was the result of a 3% rise in average live weights, to 5.8 pounds. The increase offsets a decline of 2.9% in the number of broilers slaughtered. Broiler meat production in 2012 is forecast at 36.7 billion pounds, a decrease of 1.7% from 2011.

The decline in broiler meat production is expected to come mainly from a lower number of birds slaughtered, as bird weights are expected to be close to or slightly higher than in 2011. Broiler integrators are not expected to have any strong incentive to expand production, due to the combination of continued high prices for corn and soybean meal and relatively low broiler product prices at the wholesale level.