U.S. turkey meat production in October totaled 525 million pounds, almost identical to production during the same time in 2010, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture report.

Although the total meat production was unchanged, the number of turkeys slaughtered rose by 0.5% to 23.3 million. The increase in the number of birds slaughtered was offset by a slight decline in the average weight at slaughter from a year earlier to 28.3 pounds.

The fractional growth in turkey meat production in October contrasts to the strong expansion in production over the first half of 2011, when production was up 5.5% compared with the same period in 2010. Over the first 10 months of 2011, turkey meat production has been 3.4% higher. The second half of 2011 is expected to be a sharp contrast as production was only 0.5% higher in the third quarter, and the fourth-quarter production forecast is 1.5 billion, according to the USDA, only 0.3% above 2010.


Stocks of all turkey products fell by over 100 million pounds between the end of September and the end of October. Total turkey stocks were 407 million pounds at the end of October, down 0.7% from 2010. This is a significant change from stocks at the end of September which were 7.6% higher than in 2010.

Declines in stocks of whole birds accounted for 69% of the decline in total turkey product stocks from September to October. Stocks of whole birds fell by almost 71 million pounds, dropping the level for whole birds to 209 million pounds, almost 14% lower than 2010. Whole bird stocks at the end of September were only 2.6% lower than 2010. The decline in stocks of turkey products was much less (down 32 million pounds), and stocks of turkey products at the end of October were 199 million pounds, 18% higher than in October 2010.

The estimate of ending stocks for 2011 was lowered to 205 million pounds, down 10 million pounds from the previous estimate but still 7% higher than 2010. The stock estimate for the first quarter of 2012 was lowered by 15 million pounds to 325 million. However, the estimates for the second and third quarters were both increased to 500 million pounds. Anticipating a strong drawdown in stocks during in the holiday period in 2012, ending stocks for 2012 were reduced by 10 million pounds, to 200 million pounds.