Tyson Foods changing male breeding stock

The president of Tyson Foods’ chicken business said the company is making a change to the males used in its breeding program in an effort to improve its broiler supply situation.

Roy Graber Headshot
(Courtesy Cobb-Vantress)
(Courtesy Cobb-Vantress)

The president of Tyson Foods’ chicken business said the company is making a change to the males used in its breeding program in an effort to improve its broiler supply situation.

Donnie King, Tyson Foods chief operating officer and president of the company’s chicken business, said during a quarterly earnings call on May 10 that Tyson is “changing out a male that, quite frankly, we made a bad decision on.”

Later that morning in a conference call with reporters, King acknowledged that the decision to make changes to its male breeding stock has played a role in the company’s tight chicken supply, describing the supply issues as a 50-50 split between the hatch issue and the strong consumer demand for chicken.

Earlier, Tyson Foods, which owns poultry genetics company Cobb-Vantress, made a switch to its male breeding stock because it was looking for broiler characteristics such as higher yields, better livability and better performance.

And while King said that change led to “broiler performance numbers that we were looking for,” the company did not anticipate that the change would mean giving up breeding characteristics like egg production and hatchability.

Tyson Foods is now addressing those compromised breeding characteristics.

“We will be going back to a more historical male that balances the breeding characteristics with the broiler characteristics,” King told reporters.

“We’re addressing that, and we’ll get our supply sorted out as we move, but as we look through the summer, chicken supply versus demand will be very tight.”

During the same call, King and Tyson Foods CEO Dean Banks gave an update on its new poultry complex in Humboldt, Tennessee, and other efforts to increase its broiler processing capacity.

Headquartered in Springdale Arkansas, Tyson Foods is the largest broiler producer in the United States and the second largest in the world. The company produced 200.7 million pounds of ready-to-cook chicken on a weekly basis in 2020.

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