The U.S. table-egg-laying flock in October was estimated at 282 million hens, 0.9% above 2010 numbers, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Changes in the table egg flock numbers on a year-over-year basis have generally been lower in 2011. The flock size was higher in only three of the first 10 months, although table egg production has been higher throughout 2011. The table egg flock is expected to remain higher than 2010 through the remainder of 2011, but only slightly. At the beginning of November the estimate of the number of birds in the table egg flock was down, but the decrease was less than 1%. With expected higher feed prices and continuing economic uncertainties, egg producers are not expected to have much of an incentive to expand production in 2012, according to the USDA.

Even with table egg production higher throughout the first 10 months of 2011, total production has been 5.5 billion dozen, only marginally higher (0.8%) than the same period in 2010. In October, production was 562 million dozen, an increase of 1.9% from 2010 numbers. Fourth-quarter 2011 table egg production is estimated at 1.69 billion dozen, or about 1.1% higher than 2010.

Hatching egg production has been lower than 2010 through the first 10 months of 2011. Over the first half of 2011, hatching egg production was down by relatively small amounts per month, but since July the declines have been much sharper, averaging around 3% per month. Although there have been some declines in the number of egg-type eggs produced, the majority of the decline has come from a lower number of broiler-type eggs. The decrease in the production of broiler-type eggs is expected to continue through the first half of 2012 or until broiler integrators begin to expand production.

For more information on U.S. poultry data, visit www.wattagnet.com/marketdata.html.