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

Weekly Broiler Production and Prices


Due to the Federal shutdown weekly Broiler Hatchery and Broiler Market News Reports were unavailable. 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 past weekly 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 14.9 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 179.3 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

For the short processing week ending December 29th 117.7 million broilers were processed at an average live weight of 6.27 lbs. (6.07 lbs. last week) and a nominal yield of 76.0 percent. The number of broilers processed was 14.2 percent less than the corresponding processing week in 2017. Processed (RTC) broiler production for the week was estimated based on live weight and nominal yield at 560.7 million lbs. (254,845 metric tons). Production of RTC for 2018 to date attained 39.2 billion lbs. (17.82 million metric tons), 0.3 percent more than in 2017.

The USDA Southern States (SS) benchmark prices in cents per lb. (rounded to nearest cent) as documented in the Broiler Market News Reports January 4th 2019 are tabulated with a comparison with the previous week:-


USDA SS. Past week Cents/lb.

USDA SS. Previous week Cents/lb.


Difference. %






B/S Breasts




Whole Breasts




B/S Thighs




Whole Thighs








Leg Quarters




Wings (cut)




The USDA National Composite Weighted Wholesale price on January 4 th 2019 was up 8.5 cents per lb. from the previous week to 104.8 cents per lb. compared to 95.0 cents per lb. during the corresponding week of 2017; 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 December 29 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 23 percent (last week23 percent) of processed volume.

On December 31st 2018 cold storage holdings at selected centers amounted to 75,976 lbs., lower by 8.6 percent from an inventory of 83,115 lbs. on December 1st 2018.

According to the most recent December 21st 2018 USDACold Storage Report, issued monthly, stocks as of November 30 th 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 in accordance with USDA projections.

There have been 231 diagnoses of vvND involving backyard flocks (a euphemism for "fighting cocks") as of December 20th 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. The incidence rate of vvND was apparently declining through November. 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. (see EGG-NEWS under the SEARCH tab entering "Newcastle disease"). CHICK-NEWS previously invited comment from APHIS regarding the epidemiology of END in backyard flocks, reasons for the decline in incidence and prospects for eradication without 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.

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 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. This 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 2018 Simon M. Shane