U.S. broiler meat production has been mixed in 2012, with higher production in February and April and lower production in January and March, according to the latest report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Total broiler meat production in April was 2.99 billion pounds, an increase of 0.7 percent from 2011 numbers, though processors reported slaughtering 683 million broilers, a decrease of 0.5 percent. Offsetting this decrease in the number of birds slaughtered was an increase in the average broiler liveweight at slaughter to 5.84 pounds, 1.4 percent higher than in 2011. The average meat yield per bird was 4.38 pounds, up 1.2 percent from 2011 numbers.

The broiler meat production estimates for both the second and third quarters of 2012 have been revised upward as the decline in eggs set diminishes and weights continue to increase. The estimate for the second quarter has been increased by 200 million pounds to 9.3 billion, and the third-quarter estimate has been increased by 100 million pounds, also to 9.3 billion. With these changes and a small adjustment to the first-quarter production, the estimate for 2012 has been increased to 36.89 billion pounds, down slightly (0.8 percent) from 2011. The increases in broiler meat production in the second and third quarters are expected to come from a combination of a higher number of birds slaughtered than originally expected and higher average weights.

Broiler stocks at the end of April totaled 577 million pounds, down 18 percent from 2011 but 30 million pounds above March. Lower broiler meat production in the second half of 2011 and through the first quarter of 2012, along with strong exports, resulted in falling stock levels. Broiler stock levels are expected to increase somewhat in the coming months to accommodate increases in production estimates. The forecasts for the second-, third- and fourth-quarter 2012 ending stocks have all increased by 25 million pounds. Even with these increases, ending stocks are expected to be below 2011 numbers until the fourth quarter of 2012.

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