The number of hens in the U.S. table egg flock was reported at 285 million in February, 1 percent higher than in February 2011, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture report.

With this increase in hens and the additional day due to Leap Year, table egg production rose to 521 million dozen in February, an increase of 3.8 percent from 2011 numbers. Table egg production is expected to continue higher through March and is forecast at 1.65 billion dozen for the first quarter, a 0.7 percent increase from 2011. Table egg production in 2012 is expected to be slightly higher than in 2011 through the first three quarters but then to be slightly lower in the fourth quarter. The forecast total for 2012, at 6.62 billion dozen, is 0.4 percent higher than in 2011.

Hatching egg production is also forecast lower (1.05 billion dozen), down 1.8 percent from 2011 numbers. In February, the number of hens in the broiler hatching flock totaled 50.6 million, down 8.1 percent from February 2011. On a year-over-year basis, the number of hens in the broiler hatching flock has been lower for the last 13 consecutive months. However, even with the large decline in the number of hens, the number of broiler-type eggs produced in February was down only 1 percent from 2011. This is partially due to the extra day in February 2012 (Leap Year). However, another source of the increase was that the number of eggs produced per 100 hens in the broiler hatching flock was 15 percent higher than in 2011.

In February, egg and egg product exports totaled 19.8 million dozen, down 9 percent from the same time in 2011. Almost all the decrease can be attributed to a very sharp decline in egg shipments to Korea. Shipments to Korea were especially strong in 2011 as pork supplies were lower due to disease problems. In February exports to Korea were down 3.9 million dozen from 2011 numbers, a decline of 92 percent. The lower shipments to Korea were almost totally due to falling exports of eggs products. The declines in egg product exports to Korea more than offset larger exports to Canada, Japan, Hong Kong and Mexico. These countries are normally the top four markets for U.S. egg exports.

For more egg information and statistics, see www.wattagnet.com/marketdata.html.