U.S. broiler meat production for the first 5 months of 2011 was 15.5 billion pounds, up 4.8% from the same period in 2010, due to a greater number of birds being slaughtered and higher average weights at slaughter, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest report. However, starting in late May and continuing through the most recent data, the number of eggs placed in incubators and the number of chicks placed for growout has turned sharply lower than in 2010, and broiler meat production in third-quarter 2011 is expected to be below that of the same time in 2010.

The falling year-over-year production is expected to continue in fourth-quarter 2011, and the fourth-quarter production estimate was lowered to 9.3 billion pounds, down 75 million from the earlier estimate. Production for all of 2011 is estimated at 38.4 billion pounds.


The relatively higher grain prices and the sluggish economy are expected to influence broiler production through 2012. Production in 2012 was reduced by 230 million pounds to 37.8 billion pounds, up only 1.1% from the 2011 total. Most of the reduction was attributed to changes in the second half of 2012, as the expected production increase in that period is now expected to be more modest than originally forecast.

At the beginning of June the number of birds in the broiler breeder flock was estimated at 54.8 million, down just less than 1% from a year earlier. If the size of the broiler breeder flock remains below the previous year over the next several months, the number of eggs placed in incubators and chicks hatched are expected to continue to be significantly lower compared with 2010, and this will reduce the number of birds available for slaughter.