U.S. broiler meat production was 3.3 billion pounds in October, up 8 percent from 2011 numbers, mostly because the month had two additional slaughter days compared with October 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest report. In contrast, production in September was down 8 percent due to its having 2 fewer slaughter days than in 2011.  

Examining broiler meat production over a slightly longer time frame shows that production has been very similar to 2011. Broiler meat production from August to October was only 0.3 percent less than in the same period in 2011.

In October 2012, the number of broilers slaughtered was up 6.3 percent to 746 million birds, while the average liveweight per bird was 5.95 pounds, an increase of 1.1 percent from 2011 numbers, according to the USDA. Broiler meat production for the fourth quarter of 2012 is forecast at 9.05 billion pounds, an increase of 50 million pounds from the previous estimate and 2.7 percent higher than in 2011. The fourth-quarter 2012 increase is expected to come from a greater number of broilers slaughtered and slightly higher average liveweights in the quarter.

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The high corn prices forecast for the remainder of 2012 and into 2013, even with relatively strong prices for a number of broiler products (mostly whole birds, breast meat and wings), are expected to lead broiler integrators to scale back production in 2013. The number of chicks being placed for growout continues slightly lower than in 2011. From November 10 to December 8, chick placements averaged 155 million, down 0.9 percent from the same period in 2011. Chick placements are expected to remain below year-earlier levels into the first half of 2013 and then to gradually exceed year-earlier levels in the second half of 2013. The timing and speed of this change will largely depend on corn and soybean supplies, according to the USDA report.

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