Donohue shares poultry statistics worth consuming

Agri-Stats vice president Michael Donohue shared poultry industry statistics during Poultry Market Intelligence Forum at IPPE 2020.

Jim Winter Headshot
(Courtesy Trouw Nutrition)
(Courtesy Trouw Nutrition)

Among poultry professionals, Michael Donohue talked about his yearly efforts to shave running time off his long races.

The vice president of Agri-Stats translated that effort into his presentation, Long-Term Trends in Poultry Production and Marketing, part of the Poultry Market Intelligence Forum that was held Wednesday, January 29 at the International Production & Processing Expo in Atlanta.

“Two to three seconds per mile may not seem like a lot, but if I can shave off two to three seconds here and there, it adds up,” Donohue said. “In the poultry industry, I try to illustrate how small changes of 1% or even tenths of a percent can help people.”

Donohue touched on years’ worth of statistics compiled at Agri-Stats, focusing on an update on broiler “Vital Signs,” current production trends and costs, how no antibiotics ever (NAE) production affects the industry, changes in what’s sold, and labor expense and trends.

Here are some key statistics from the presentation:

  • Breeder hatchability decreased the past couple years. Donohue said this is somewhat due to genetic issues.
  • Live production costs in 2012 were 46 to 47 cents per pound. Abundant corn and soybean harvests the past couple years has lowered live production costs to 36 to 37 cents per pound, and that cost is now more consistent.
  • Broiler livability in 2012 climbed to 96%. Now it’s at about 95%, which Donohue said is due, in small part, to heavier bird weights.
  • Whole bird field condemnation has decreased from 1.2% in 1988 to 0.2% in 2019. “I try to illustrate the value of a 1% change, how a difference of 1% moves and measures things,” Donohue said.
  • Live weight average has increased from 4.2 pounds more than 20 years ago to 6.6 pounds today. The average has leveled the past couple years, in small part due to woody breast syndrome, Donohue said.
  • Eviscerated yield has increased from 70% in 1997 to 80% in 2019. Donohue said chickens are bigger with a smaller percentage of head and feet, with a gain in breast, the part of the chicken selective breeding was focused on.
  • Boneless breast meat yield has increased from 14% in 1994 to 26% in 2019.
  • 170 million chickens a week are being produced in the United States.
  • Hourly wage rates without benefits have increased from $8/hour in 1995 to $16/hour in 2019.


Donohue shared more than statistics and insights. Here’s some quotable moments:

  • “We’re feeding what the American consumer wants – sandwich, nuggets, strips. We’ve changed the product to meet what American consumers need and want.”
  • “I always love it when people say they prefer eating dark meat. I tell them ‘you’re speaking about what your grandmother fed you in 1954 or 1955.'”

Other takeaways

  • Bird flu continues to be a challenge.
  • The United States is seeing record volumes of chicken production.
  • Ethanol is not going away.

Read more from IPPE.

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