U.S. turkey meat production in August was 530 million pounds, up 5.7 percent from 2011 numbers, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest report.

The number of turkeys slaughtered (22.9 million) was 3.8 percent higher than in 2011, and the average liveweight at slaughter (28.9 pounds) was 1.3 percent higher.

Year–over-year turkey production increased through the first half of 2012, and continued growth is expected in the second half of the year. However, the most recent turkey hatchery data point to a possible change in this pattern, according to the USDA. In August, the number of net poult placements for growout totaled 23.5 million birds, down 1.7 percent from 2011 numbers. This is the first monthly year-over-year decline in 2012. Also, the number of turkey eggs in incubators at the beginning of September totaled 26.3 million, down 6.3 percent from 2011.

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At the end of August, cold storage holdings of turkey products totaled 555 million pounds, 5 percent higher than in 2011. Compared with 2011, strong growth in production during the first eight months of 2012 has led to a buildup of stocks. Overall turkey stocks were above those of the previous year for 14 of the last 15 months. Increases in turkey stocks over the last several months were due primarily to seasonally larger holdings of whole birds, according to the USDA. At the end of August 2012, cold storage holdings of whole birds totaled 327 million pounds, up 12 percent from August 2011, but cold storage holdings of turkey parts totaled 228 million pounds, 3.6 percent lower than in 2011.

With turkey meat production growth for third-quarter 2012 expected at 3.7 percent and with an additional 3.7-percent increase in production expected for fourth-quarter 2012, ending stocks are expected to be 250 million pounds, up strongly (18 percent) from 2011. However, production is expected to be lower in 2013 and stock levels are expected to decline and remain lower than the previous year through 2013.