U.S. turkey hatchery data showed that the number of poults being placed during the second half of 2011 was higher in four out of five of the last months and that it was again higher (4.6 percent) in January, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture report.

Poult placements are expected to remain above 2011 numbers as the number of turkey eggs placed in incubators has been higher than 2011 at the beginning of both January and February. With expected increases in poult placements, the turkey meat production estimates for 2012 was increased somewhat in all four quarters with the total for 2012 rising to 5.92 billion pounds, up 2 percent from 2011.

First-quarter 2012 turkey meat production is now forecast at 1.4 billion pounds, up slightly from 2011, with stronger increases expected later in 2012 as turkey producers raise production in response to the strong prices for whole birds that existed throughout 2011 and into 2012. The higher production is expected to come primarily from more birds being slaughtered, but a small increase in average liveweight at slaughter is also expected.


Turkey meat production in January totaled 477 million pounds, an increase of 3 percent from the same time in 2011 and January 2011 was over 9 percent higher than January 2010. The increase in production was the result of both a higher number of turkeys being slaughtered (up 2.9 percent) and a small increase in the average weight of birds at slaughter to 30.9 pounds (0.3 percent higher).

Year-over-year increases in production are expected to continue in both February and March, with production during first-quarter 2012 expected to be about 1 percent higher than 2011 numbers. Growth in turkey meat production is expected to continue throughout the remainder of 2012 as higher prices provide the incentive for higher production.