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

Weekly Broiler Production and Prices


Chick Placements.

The first Broiler Hatchery Report released on February 6 thafter the Federal shutdown confirmed that a total of 228.9 million eggs were set during the week ending February 2nd one percent more than in the corresponding week in 2018. A total of 175.2 million day-old chicks were placed among the 19 major broiler-producing states during the week ending February 2nd. This was two percent higher than the corresponding week in 2017. Total chick placements for the U.S. amounted to 182.9 million. Claimed average hatchability was 82.1 percent for eggs set three weeks earlier. Broiler chick placements for 2019 through February 2nd amounted to 913 million <0.1 percent more than YTD 2018.

Percent hatch figures for the weeks during the shutdown were:- January 12 th 80.2; January 19th 81.2; January 26th 79.5.

Broiler Production

According to the USDA Broiler Market News Report (Vol. 66: No.06) for the processing week ending February 2nd 2019, 163.2 million broilers were processed at an average live weight of 6.11 lbs. (6.13 lbs. last week) and a nominal yield of 76.0 percent. The number of broilers processed was 1.3 percent less than the corresponding processing week in 2018. Processed (RTC) broiler production for the week was 757.7 million lbs. (344,415 metric tons). Production YTD of RTC in 2019 is 3.705 million lbs. (1,683,998 metric tons), 1.6 percent more than in 2018.

Broiler Prices

The USDA Southern States (SS) benchmark prices in cents per lb. (rounded to nearest cent) as documented in the Broiler Market News Reports February 8th 2019 are tabulated with a comparison with the previous week:-


USDA SS. Previous week Cents/lb.

USDA SS. Past  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 February 8 th 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; 98.9 cents per lb. for January 2018 and 88 cents per lb. for the three-year average.

The USDA posted live-weight data for the past week ending January 26 th 2019 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 22 percent (last week 19 percent) of processed volume.

On Feb 4th 2018 cold storage holdings at selected centers amounted to 70,494 lbs., lower by 5.0 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.

    The USDA will release the next Cold Storage Report on February 22nd.


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

The weekly update of vvND cases in California has now resumed. There have been 336 diagnoses of vvND involving backyard flocks (a euphemism for "fighting cocks") as of February 1st. Confirmed and documented cases were located in in San Bernardino (108), Los Angeles (41), Riverside (190) and Ventura (1) Counties. The highest concentrations in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties 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 commercial flock of 103,000 pullets aged 6 weeks near Perris, CA in Riverside County on December 14th. This was followed by three outbreaks in close proximity to the pullet farm during January 2019 involving a total of close to 250,000 laying hens. A total of 62 cases were identified in August compared with 20 in September, 18 in October and 17 in November. A surge in cases occurred in December with 43 confirmed followed by 86 cases in January. 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 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