The outlook for U.S. broiler meat production in 2012 is for relatively sharp year-over-year declines during the first three quarters followed by an increase in the fourth quarter, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest report.

The estimate for 2012 broiler meat production was reduced from December 2011 predictions by 400 million pounds to 36.1 billion pounds, down 3 percent from 2011. Most of the reduction is the result of lower expectations for broiler weights. The combination of lower numbers of chicks being placed for growout and expected lower weights is the major factor in the reduced production estimate. Broiler product demand is also expected to be influenced by any improvement in the domestic economy and if unemployment rates decline; however, any expansion of broiler production will continue to be influenced by the outlook for feed costs, according to the USDA.

For December 2011, broiler meat production was reported at 2.9 billion pounds, down 10 percent from 2010 numbers. The number of birds slaughtered decreased year-over-year by 9 percent and, additionally, the average liveweight at slaughter fell to 5.78 pounds, down 1 percent from December 2010. Broiler meat production in the fourth quarter of 2011 totaled 8.9 billion pounds, down 6.6 percent from the fourth quarter of 2010. The decrease was again due to both a decrease in the number of broilers being slaughtered (down 6 percent) and a decrease in the average liveweight at slaughter (down 0.7 percent).


The average liveweight per bird at slaughter in the fourth quarter of 2011 was 5.83 pounds. The fourth quarter was the only quarter where the average weight was less than 2010 numbers. 

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