The overall number of chickens slaughtered in the U.S. in 2012 dropped by more than a million from the previous year, but higher live weights helped to narrow the gap in pounds produced between the two years.

Total chickens slaughtered in 2012 amounted to 8.58 billion, compared to 8.68 billion in 2011, according to the USDA Poultry Slaughter Annual Summary, released February 25. However, the total live weight for chickens in 2012 was 50.17 billion, compared to 50.39 billion for the previous year.


The average live weight per bird in 2012 was 5.85 pounds, up .05 pounds from 2011. Average weight was at its lowest point for 2012 in July, at 5.77 pounds, but that number steadily increased, breaking the 5.9-pound mark in October 2012. Chickens reached their highest average weight in November 2012, weighing in at 5.95 pounds.

Turkey production increased in 2012, both in terms of numbers slaughtered and weights. Numbers increased from 246.84 million to 250.2 million, with average weights jumping from 29.43 pounds to 29.83 pounds, leading to a total live weight jump from 7.26 billion pounds to 7.46 billion pounds.