U.S. broiler meat production in August totaled 3.3 billion pounds, down 0.4 percent from August 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest report, attributed to a fall in the number of birds slaughtered.

The August slaughter, at 760 million, was down 0.9 percent from August 2011. However, the average liveweight at slaughter rose to 5.81 pounds, up 0.5 percent, which resulted in total liveweight at slaughter in August at 4.4 billion pounds, a decline of 0.4 percent from 2011 numbers. Total broiler meat production has been boosted by heavier average weights through six of the first eight months of 2012, and the year-to-date average weight has been 5.82 pounds, slightly higher (0.6 percent) than during the same period in 2011.

Broiler meat production in July and August was slightly lower than expected, and the production forecast for the third quarter was decreased by 25 million pounds to 9.28 billion pounds, a decline of 2.8 percent from the third quarter of 2011.

The most recent five-week average for the number of chicks being placed for growout is slightly higher (up 0.7 percent) from the average for the same period in 2011, according to the USDA. This small growth led to the broiler meat production forecast for fourth-quarter 2012 being lowered to 8.98 billion pounds, 1.3 percent higher than in fourth-quarter 2011. Average liveweight at slaughter in the fourth quarter is expected to be only slightly higher than that of the same time in 2011. Since approximately the beginning of August, the number of chicks placed had gradually been drawing closer to the level of 2011, and in the last several weeks it has moved higher.


In fourth-quarter 2012, the number of chicks placed for growout is expected to gradually move higher than in the same period in 2011. Broiler slaughter in the fourth quarter is expected to be based for the most part on the number of chicks placed for growout through the beginning of November.

U.S. broiler meat production for 2013 is expected to total 36.4 billion pounds, up 60 million pounds from the September estimate and just under 1 percent lower than the revised 2012 estimate. The upward revision for 2013 is the result of a slightly lower forecast for feed prices. While broiler integrators are expected to lower production in 2013, the amount and duration of the decrease will depend on improvements in the domestic economy, competing protein prices, and export demand.

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