The total pounds of poultry slaughtered in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2009 were 7% lower than the slaughter volume in the first quarter of 2008, according to USDA data.

Broiler pounds slaughtered in the first quarter this year were down 6% from the same quarter of 2008 and turkey pounds were down 10%.

Reductions in slaughter pounds from the prior year were greater in February than they were in March. Broiler pounds slaughtered in March 2009 were about the same as in March 2008, and turkey pounds slaughtered were 3% lower in March 2009 than in March last year.

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There was one more week day in 2009 than in 2008 and Easter was in March in 2008. In February 2009, broiler and turkey slaughter pounds were 8% and 12% lower for broilers and turkeys, respectively, than they were in the same month last year.

For the first three months of 2009, the average live weight at slaughter of both broiler and turkeys has remained virtually unchanged since last year. All of the reduction in total slaughter pounds has come from a reduction in the number of head processed.