Share via Email

* Email To: (Separate multiple addresses with a semicolon)
* Your Name:
* Email From: (Your IP Address is
* Email Subject: (personalize your subject)

Email Content: Poultry Industry News, Comments and more by Simon M. Shane

Weekly Broiler Production and Prices


Due to the Federal shutdown the weekly Broiler Hatchery Report was not issued and accordingly the USDA Broiler Market News Report was incomplete. CHICK-NEWS has assembled FSIS and USDA market data to produce a Weekly Broiler Production and Price Report. The normal format will be posted when USDA publications resume.

Chick Placements

Values in 10-point font reflect pre-shutdown data reproduced for comparison.

The last Broiler Hatchery Report released on December 19 th before the Federal shutdown confirmed that a total of 222.5 million eggs were set during the week ending December 15th one percent less than in the corresponding week in 2017. A total of 175.5 million day-old chicks were placed among the 19 major broiler-producing states during the week ending December 15th. This was almost the same as the corresponding week in 2017. Total chick placements for the U.S. amounted to 183.3 million. Claimed average hatchability was 82.1 percent for eggs set three weeks earlier. Broiler chick placements for 2018 through December 15th amounted to 9.09 billion, up 1.0 percent from YTD 2017.

Given that 225.5 million eggs were placed in incubators during the week ending December 15th and assuming 82 percent hatch, a potential supply of 184.5 million chicks was available. The U.S. industry places on average 97 percent of chicks hatched, suggesting placements for the week ending December 29th to be 179.0 million. It is estimated that broiler placements for 2018 amounted to 9.5 billion. These values will be adjusted when publication of USDA data resumes.

Broiler Production

According to the USDA Broiler Market News Report (Vol. 66: No.05) for the processing week ending January 26th 2019, 158.1 million broilers were processed at an average live weight of 6.13 lbs. (6.21 lbs. last week) and a nominal yield of 76.0 percent. The number of broilers processed was 4.7 percent less than the corresponding processing week in 2018. Processed (RTC) broiler production for the week was 736.5 million lbs. (355,460 metric tons). Production YTD of RTC in 2019 is 2.210 million lbs. (1,491,750 metric tons) 2.7 percent more than in 2018.

The USDA Southern States (SS) benchmark prices in cents per lb. (rounded to nearest cent) as documented in the Broiler Market News Reports February 1st 2019 are tabulated with a comparison with the previous week:-


USDA SS. Past week


USDA SS. Previous week













B/S Breasts




Whole Breasts




B/S Thighs




Whole Thighs








Leg Quarters




Wings (cut)




The USDA National Composite Weighted Wholesale price on February 1 st 2019 was down 2.2 cents per lb. from the previous week to 92.0 cents per lb. compared to 91.7 cents per lb. during the corresponding week of 2018; 89.8 cents per lb. for December 2018 and 87 cents per lb. for the three-year average.

The USDA posted live-weight data for the past week ending January 26 th 2018 and YTD 2018 were:-

Live Weight Range (lbs.)





Proportion past week 2018 (%)





Change from 2017 YTD (%)





During the past week broilers for QSR and food service (live, 3.6lb. to 4.3lb.) represented 19 percent (last week 23 percent) of processed volume.

On January 28th 2018 cold storage holdings at selected centers amounted to 72,399 lbs., lower by 2.4 percent from an inventory of 74,212 lbs. on January 1st 2019.

According to the most recent December 21st 2018 USDA Cold Storage Report, issued before the Federal shutdown, stocks as of November 30th 2018 compared to November 30th 2017 showed differences with respect to the following categories:-

  • Total Chicken category increased by 4.3 percent to 935.2 million lbs. (425,088 metric tons) on November 30th 2018 compared to 896.6 million lbs. (407,546 metric tons) on November 30th 2017

  • Leg Quarters were down 38.4 percent to 70.1 million lbs. consistent with the data on exports

  • The Breasts and Breast Meat category was up by 1.4 percent to 186.6 million lbs. attributed to reduced domestic demand from food service and retail.

  • Wings showed a 30.8 percent increase, contributing to a stock of 99.6 million lbs. reflecting seasonal demand and slowing consumption.

  • Paws and Feet increased by 0.3 percent to 26.7 million lbs. as a result of reduced demand from Asia.

  • It is noted that the Other category comprising 432.8 million lbs. represented a significant 46.3 percent of inventory on November 30th 2018. The high proportion in the Other category suggests further classification or re-allocation by USDA to the designated major categories.


Placements of chicks and level of slaughter are assumed to be consistent with USDA projections.

The Federal shutdown has ended the weekly update of vvND cases in California. There have been 231 diagnoses of vvND involving backyard flocks (a euphemism for "fighting cocks") as of December 20th. Although the report has not been updated since the Federal shutdownit is presumed that the number of cases to date is approaching 300. Confirmed and documented cases were located in in San Bernardino (104), Los Angeles (39), Riverside (87) and Ventura (1) Counties. The highest concentration in San Bernardino County comprised clusters in close proximity. An isolate of END was obtained from a live-bird market in Los Angeles during the last week of September. A diagnosis of vvND was made on a flock of 103,000 pullets aged 6 weeks near Perris, CA in Riverside County on December 14th. This was followed by two outbreaks in close proximity to the pullet farm during early January 2019 involving a total of close to 250,000 laying hens. The incidence rate of vvND was apparently declining through November but a total of 62 cases were identified in August compared with 20 in September, 18 in October and 17 in November. In mid-November the State Veterinarian for California announced a pre-emptive depopulation of all backyard poultry in an affected cluster in each of three counties. This has in all probability led to predictable and unintended consequences. (see EGG-NEWS under the SEARCH tab entering "Newcastle disease").

On January 18th 2019 a presumptive diagnosis of vvND was made in Utah County, UT. Preliminary investigation suggested that movement of fighting cocks from southern California was responsible for introduction of infection into the flock of 200 birds. CHICK-NEWS previously invited comment from APHIS regarding the epidemiology of vvND in backyard fighting cock flocks, reasons for the decline in incidence in October followed by a resurgence and prospects for eradication but without a response. No relevant epidemiologic information was provided in the APHIS/CAFD Conference call on December 17th Accordingly, an Editorial in CHICK-NEWS on December 24th was posted dealing with the ongoing outbreak.

It is now apparent from a meeting between the USDA and the major poultry associations in Washington in mid-January that the USDA-APHIS will not divert funds from the balance left after eradication of HPAI to control and eradicate vvND in California.

Mexico has recognized the OIE principle of regionalization after intensive negotiations between SENASICA and U.S. counterparts in USDA-APHIS assisted by USAPEEC. Exports of broiler parts, fertile eggs and breeding stock should not be impeded unless there is extensive dissemination of vvND with involvement of the commercial poultry industry in central or northern California or adjoining states.

CHICK-NEWS previously commented on the possible impact of failure to reconcile differences to achieve an equitable extension to the NAFTA agreement. Provisional agreement was reached at the end of August in negotiations between the U.S. and Mexico. An eleventh-hour agreement with concessions on all sides was concluded on September 30th and signed on November 30th at the G-20 Meeting. This has created a trilateral successor to NAFTA entitled the USMCA. The tripartite agreement has yet to be ratified by the legislatures of all three nations.

Broiler exports to Mexico during the first ten months of 2018 attained 533,799 metric tons. This represented 22.1 percent of export volume and 16.2 percent of export value (amounting to $434 million) of the total year to date export value of $2.67 billion. In the absence of either the NAFTA or the newly concluded USMCA equivalent, tariffs on chicken could have risen to 75 percent of value creating a non-competitive situation favoring Brazil and Argentina. Fifth-ranked Canada imported 119,293 metric tons of broilers and parts during the first ten months of 2018 valued at $302.2 million. Collectively our NAFTA/USMCA neighbors imported broiler products to the value of $519 million in 2017 and $761.9 million during the first ten months of 2018. The USMCA will still have to be confirmed by the legislatures of all three nations in early 2019

Copyright 2019 Simon M. Shane