U.S. turkey meat production in October totaled 580 million pounds, 11 percent higher than in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest report.  

Much of the year-over-year gain was due to the two more slaughter days in October 2012, which more than offset the reverse situation in September (two fewer slaughter days), where turkey meat production fell by 4 percent compared with 2011. Over the last three months, turkey production has totaled 1.56 billion pounds, 4.3 percent higher than in the same period in 2011. In October, much of the increase in turkey production was due to a higher number of birds slaughtered, up 7.3 percent, but a 2.4-percent gain in the average liveweight of birds at slaughter to 29 pounds also played a role, according to the USDA.

Cold storage holdings of turkeys and turkey parts totaled 454 million pounds at the end of October. This 68-million-pound reduction from September was driven by many whole turkeys being taken out of storage in preparation for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. Between the end of September and the end of October, stocks of whole turkeys fell by 47 million pounds and stocks of turkey products fell by 21 million pounds, according to USDA numbers. 

Even with the decline in whole turkey stocks, the stocks were still 25 percent higher than at the same time in 2011. In contrast, the stocks of turkey products (196 million pounds) were down 2 percent from 2011 numbers. This increase in cold storage holding for whole turkeys is a significant change from earlier in 2012 and is expected to place downward pressure on prices for the rest of fourth-quarter 2012 and into 2013.

Over the first 10 months of 2012, turkey poults placed for growout totaled 239 million, an increase of 3.1 percent from the same period in 2011, according to the USDA report. Over the last three months, the percentage change from 2011 has varied considerably, with the number of poults hatched in August and September down (2 and 7 percent). However, in October the number of poults placed totaled 22.7 million, a gain of 6 percent from 2011 numbers. Given higher stocks and lower prices for whole birds, turkey producers are expected to lower production in 2013.

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