In August, U.S. table egg production was 563 million dozen, 1.7 percent higher than in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest report.

The gain was due to increases in both the size of the table egg flock and the number of eggs produced per laying hen. In August, the number of hens in the table egg laying flock was 282 million, up 1 percent from 2011 numbers. During the first 8 months of 2012, table egg production totaled 4.4 billion dozen, an increase of 1.1 percent over that in the same period in 2011.

Table egg production increased throughout the first 8 months of 2012, a trend that is expected to continue through the remainder of the third quarter and into the fourth quarter and has led to an increase of 45 million dozen in the production forecast for 2012. With relatively high prices expected into the first half of 2013, the decline in production is likely to be more moderate; thus, expected shell egg production for 2013 has increased by 100 million dozen, according to the USDA. This brings the 2013 total to 6.6 billion dozen, 1.1 percent lower than the forecast total in 2012.

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Over the first eight months of 2012, the number of hatching eggs produced totaled 694 million dozen, down 3.8 percent from the same period in 2011. The decline in hatching egg production has been concentrated in lower numbers of broiler-type eggs produced. Production of broiler-type hatching eggs is expected to fall through the rest of third-quarter 2012 but increase slightly in the fourth quarter.

In September, wholesale prices for a dozen large eggs in the New York market averaged $1.35, up 16 percent from the price in 2011. In early October, weekly prices declined somewhat to approximately $1.17 per dozen. Prices in the fourth quarter of 2012 are expected to strengthen seasonally and average $1.32–$1.38 per dozen.

For more information on U.S. eggs, see www.wattagnet.com/marketdata.html.