CME: Broiler Flock Growing; Turkey Flock Recovering

US - The US' broiler flock is still growing, and the turkey flock appears to be recovering from the effects of highly pathogenic avian influenza, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner.
calendar icon 23 July 2015
clock icon 4 minute read

The growth rate of the US broiler breeder flock slowed during June but remains well above 2 per cent according to USDA’s monthly Chickens and Eggs report, released yesterday.

The report indicated that there were 55.159 million broiler-type layers in breeder flocks as of July 1, 2.6 per cent more than one year ago.

That year-on-year change breaks a string of three straight months in which the flock was over 3 per cent larger than one year ago. It also continues a now year-long string of months in which the flock has been at least 1.8 per cent larger than one year earlier.

This is the largest July 1 flock since 2010 when it numbered 55.715 million. For a bit of perspective: the broiler breeder flock peaked out in February 2008 at 58.686 million hens.

Rising feed costs and their impact on profitability caused the flock to decline steadily until November 2012 when, at 49.106 million head, it reached its lowest level since 1996.

Expansion since that time has replaced roughly 6 million of the 9.58 million decline from 2008 through 2012. While the breeder flock has finally seen some healthy growth in the past year, the real story in terms of output is the flock’s productivity which has increased on several counts.

Eggs produced per 100 broiler-type hens grew by 1.9 per cent versus one year ago in June. That’s the best year-on-year improvement rate for this key measure since March 2012. Further, the eggs/100 hen rate declined from one year earlier in 15 of the intervening 39 months and was less than 1 per cent in an additional 12 months.

The gain in output per hen pushed June broiler hatching egg production to 1.032 billion, 5.2 per cent higher than one year ago. That’s the largest such change since February 2008.

Finally, the hatching rate of these eggs continues to grow, pushing the number of broiler chicks actually hatched to just over 787 million in June, 9.8 per cent higher than one year ago.

The number of broiler chicks hatched has been at or above its highest level of the past 5 years in every month thus far in 2015.

Not all of those chicks survive and/or get placed in grow-out facilities of course but it is clear from these data that the industry has made some important improvements in both productive capacity and production efficiency this year.

Then add another 4.5 per cent to account for the increase in average bird weight so far in 2015 and broiler output is up 7.1 per cent year-to-date through July 10.

These solid increases in productivity suggest that the higher output levels can continue as long as company managers want it to do so.

We expect that to remain the case since, with the exception of leg quarters which have been adversely impacted by HPAI-related export bans, chicken and chicken part prices have held together very well - so far.

The turkey sector is apparently recovering from the impacts of HPAI. That would be our judgement of the data in last week’s Turkey Hatchery report.

Most noteworthy among that data is the chart that shows that net turkey poult placements rose sharply to 22.899 million in June to get within 2.4 per cent of year-ago levels.

Those figures compare to 21.647 million and –7.1 per cent in May when turkey losses in Minnesota were significant. The number of turkey eggs in incubators on the 1st of the month was still down 4 per cent, yr/yr on July 1 following declines of 7.5 per cent and 5.4 per cent in May and June.

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