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

Weekly Broiler Production and Prices


Chick Placements.

The Broiler Hatchery Report released on November 20th confirmed that a total of 234.5 million eggs were set during the week ending November 16th, three percent higher than 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 November 16th. This was four percent more than in the corresponding week in 2018. Total chick placements for the U.S. amounted to 182.9 million. Claimed average hatchability was 82.4 percent for eggs set three weeks earlier. Broiler chick placements for 2019 through November 16 th amounted to 8.54 billion, two percent more than YTD 2018.

Broiler Production

According to the November 2nd USDA Broiler Market News Report (Vol. 66: No. 47) for the processing week ending November 16th 2019, 168.7 million broilers were processed during the week at an average live weight of 6.30 lbs. (6.28 lbs. last week) and a nominal yield of 76.0 percent. The number of broilers processed was 5.5 percent more than the corresponding processing week in 2018. Processed (RTC) broiler production for the week was 807.7 million lbs. (367,164 metric tons), 7.6 percent more than the corresponding week in 2018. Production YTD of RTC in 2019 is 36.13 million lbs. (16,426,351 metric tons), 3.1 percent more than in 2018 YTD.

Broiler Prices

The USDA National Composite Weighted Wholesale price on November 22 nd 2019 was down 1.3 cent per lb. from the previous week to 77.0 cents per lb. compared to 87.1 cents per lb. during the corresponding week of 2018; 79 cents per lb. for October 2019 and 84 cents per lb. for the three-year average.

The USDA Southern States (SS) benchmark prices in cents per lb. (rounded to nearest cent) as documented in the Broiler Market News Reports November 22nd 2019 are tabulated with a comparison with the previous week:-


USDA SS. Previous week


USDA SS. Past week





Whole Index








B/S Breast




Whole Breasts




B/S Thighs




Whole Thighs








Leg Quarters




Wings (cut)





The USDA posted live-weight data for the past week ending November 16 th 2019 and YTD 2019 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 25 percent (last week 23 percent) of processed volume.

On November 16th 2019 cold storage holdings at selected centers amounted to 77,757 lbs., 10.4 percent less than an inventory of 86,757 lbs. on November 1st 2019.

According to the most recent November 22nd USDACold Storage Report, issued monthly, stocks as of October 31 st 2019 compared to October 31st 2018 showed differences with respect to the following categories:-

  • Total Chicken category increased by 1.4 percent to 953.3 million lbs. (433,302 metric tons) on October 31st 2019 compared to 940.3 million lbs. (427,407 metric tons) on October 31st 2018
  • Leg Quarters were down by 2.0 percent to 88.9 million lbs. consistent with the data on exports albeit at lower unit revenue as documented in the monthly export report.
  • The Breasts and Breast Meat category was up by 2.9 percent to 189.4 million lbs. despite increased domestic demand from food service and retail.
  • Wings showed a 29.9 percent decrease, contributing to a stock of 68.2 million lbs. reflecting seasonal demand and increased consumption presumably during featured sports events.
  • Paws and Feet increased by 8.6 percent to 29.8 million lbs. as a result of variable but increased demand from Hong Kong but at a progressively lower unit price*.
  • It is noted that the Other category comprising 439.0 million lbs. up 2.1 percent from October 31st 2018 represented a significant 46.0 percent of inventory on October 31st 2019. The high proportion in the Other category suggests further classification or re-allocation by USDA to the designated major categories.

*(See Meat Export Report under the STATISTICS Tab)

October Totals

The USDA Poultry Slaughter Report released November 25 th covering October 2019 comprising 23 working days recorded a total of 848.54 million head processed (up 3.5 percent from October 2018); Live weight of 5.44 billion lbs. (up 4.8 percent from October 2018); Unit weight of 6.40 lbs. (up 1.3 percent from October 2018), RTC attained 4.10 billion lbs. (up 4.8 percent from October 2018). The proportion marketed in October as chilled was 92.6 percent.


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

The outbreak of velogenic viscerotropic Newcastle disease in California appears to be coming to an end with the previous incident cases diagnosed August 14th, August 31st and September 9th . There were no incident cases during the prior eight weeks before these reports. On November 14th USDA-CADFA diagnosed two cases of ND in backyard flocks on two adjacent premises in San Bernardino County. There is every possibility of a reemergence of cases in winter either through introduction from Mexico or from transient carriers in the fighting cock population. There were 453 diagnoses of vvND involving mostly "backyard flocks" (a euphemism for fighting cocks) as of November 15th 2019. Confirmed and documented cases were located in in San Bernardino (144), Los Angeles (45), Riverside (261), Alameda, San Diego (1) and Ventura (1) Counties. The highest concentrations in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties comprised clusters in close proximity. A diagnosis of vvND was made during the week of March 11th in a backyard flock (size and type not specified by the CDFA) near Redwood City in Alameda County representing extension of infection to Northern California. This case was apparently restricted to the index farm.

A total of 62 cases were identified in August 2018 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 2019, 48 in February, 22 in March, 17 during April and 20 in May. In mid-November 2018 the State Veterinarian for California announced a pre-emptive depopulation of all backyard poultry in an affected cluster in each of three counties. This probably led to predictable and unintended consequences. On January 18 th 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. A diagnosis of vvND was made in a flock of "pet birds" (a new euphemism for fighting cocks?) in Coconino County AZ. (near Flagstaff) during early April. USDA believes that this case is connected with Southern California outbreaks since the isolate was homozygous with the endemic strain in fighting cocks in the four-County California region.

It is understood that $45 million was assigned for eradication although the objective of control of endemic vvND in game fowl could have been achieved by hyperimmunization rather than playing "whack-a-mole" Editorials in CHICK-NEWS on December 24th and March 1st were posted dealing with the ongoing outbreak. (see EGG-NEWS and CHICK-NEWS under the SEARCH tab entering "Newcastle disease").

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 Canada and the U.S. The Senate of Mexico approved the Agreement on Wednesday 19th June. The Administration is now pressing for action by Congress.

Broiler exports to Mexico during 2018 attained 651,178 metric tons. This represented 20.3 percent of export volume and 16.4 percent of export value (amounting to $517 million) of the total year-to-date export value of $3.15 billion. In the absence of either NAFTA or ratification of the USMCA equivalent signed a year ago, tariffs on chicken could rise to 75 percent of value creating a non-competitive situation favoring Brazil and Argentina. Fifth-ranked Canada imported 141,257 metric tons of broilers and parts during 2018 valued at $351.7 million. Collectively our NAFTA/USMCA neighbors imported broiler products to the value of $907 million in 2017 and $869 million during 2018. The USMCA will still have to be ratified by the legislatures of Canada and the U.S. hopefully during 2019.

Copyright © 2020 Simon M. Shane