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

Turkey Week


Weekly Turkey Production and Prices

Poult Production and Placement:

The May 14th edition of the USDA Turkey Hatchery Report, issued monthly, documented 28.1 million eggs in incubators on May 1st 2020 (27.9 million eggs on April 1st 2020) and down 1.0 percent (290,000 eggs) from May 1st 2019.

A total of 23.7 million poults were hatched during April 2020 (23.7 million in March 2020)   representing a decrease of 2.2 percent from April 2019.

A total of 21.9 million poults were placed on farms in the U.S. in April 2020, (21.7 million in March 2020), 4.9 percent less than in April 2019. This suggests disposal of 1.7 million poults during the month. Assuming all tom poults were placed, 14.4 percent of April-hatched hen poults or 8.3 percent of all April-hatched poults were not placed.

For the twelve-month period May 2019 through April 2020 inclusive, 282.0 million poults were hatched and 258.7 million were placed. This suggests disposal of 23.3 million poults. Assuming all tom poults were placed, 16.5 percent of hen poults or 8.3 percent of all poults hatched during the period were not placed.

Turkey Production:

The May 15th 2020 edition of the USDA Turkey Market News Report (Vol. 67: No. 20) confirmed the following provisional data for turkeys slaughtered under Federal inspection:-

  • For the processing week ending May 9th 2020, 1.669 million young hens were slaughtered at a live weight of 16.1 lbs. (last week 1.748 million at 15.6 lbs.). During the corresponding processing week in 2019, 1.760 million hens were processed. Ready-to-cook (RTC) hen weight for the week attained 21.6 million lbs. (9,826 metric tons), 9.3 percent less than the corresponding processing week of 2019. Dressing percentage was a nominal 80.5. For YTD 2020 RTC hen production attained 412.6 million lbs. (187,549 metric tons), 2.7 percent less than during YTD 2019.


  • For the processing week ending May 9th 2020, 2.077 million toms were slaughtered at 43.3 lbs. compared to 2.212 million toms processed during the previous week at 44.4 lbs. For the corresponding processing week in 2019, 2.288 million toms were processed. Ready-to-cook tom weight for the week attained 72.4 million lbs. (32,892 metric tons), 11.4 percent less than the corresponding processing week in 2019.  Dressing percentage was a nominal 80.5 percent. For 2020 YTD, RTC tom product attained 1.560 million lbs. (709,207 metric tons), 0.7 percent less than for the YTD 2019.


  • The National average frozen hen price during the past week was 103.4 cents per lb., 1.6 cents per lb. less than the previous week and up 18 cents from the three-year average. The following prices rounded to nearest cent were documented for domestic and export trading on May 15th 2020:-


cents per lb.

Change from previous Week (%)

Frozen hens



Frozen toms



Fresh hens



Fresh toms



Breasts 4.0-6.5 lb. (frozen)



Breasts (B/S) tom


                      No new quotation

Drums (toms for export)


                      No new quotation

Wings (V-cut tom)



Wings (V-cut hens)



Thigh Meat (frozen for export)



Mechanically Separated (export)





On May 11th 2019 cold storage holdings at selected centers amounted to 83,254 lbs., 2.6 percent less than the inventory of 85,469 lbs. on May 1st 2020.

The April 22nd edition of the USDA Cold Storage Report issued monthly, documented a total turkey stock of 389.1 million lbs. (176,871 metric tons) on March 31st 2020, approximately equivalent to three weeks production and down 17.3 percent compared to March 31st 2019 inventory. The March 31st 2020 value was 14.2 percent above the February 29th 2020 level due to decreased seasonal sales during the month relative to production.

The Whole Turkey category representing 42.4 percent of total storage of 389.1 million lbs. on March 31st 2020 and was 26.7 percent lower than the inventory on March 31st 2019. Tom carcasses in storage decreased by 15.2 percent from March 31st 2019 to 92.3 million lbs. on March 31st 2020. Hen carcasses in storage decreased by 37.4 percent from March 31st 2019 to 72,766 million lbs. on March 31st 2020.

The “Other” and “Unclassified” categories collectively amounted to 115.6 million lbs. or 29.7 percent of inventory on March 31st 2020. The magnitude of these two non-specified categories suggests that the USDA should attempt to classify product more accurately as to specific product.

March 2020 Production

According to the USDA Poultry Slaughter Report released on April 24th 2020 covering March 2020 comprising 21 working days, 19.3 million young turkeys were processed. (up 7.3 percent from March 2019); live weight attained 631.1 million lbs. (5.8 percent above March 2019); Average live weight was 32.7 lbs. (1.4 percent less than March 2019); RTC attained 503,609 million lbs. (up 5.7 percent from March 2019) with a yield of 79.8 percent. The proportion of frozen product in February attained 36.1 percent of total produced. In March 2020, 1.4 percent of RTC weight was condemned (1.5 percent in March 2019)



Please review comments on prospects for exports as outlined in the monthly USDA projection of production and the weekly Broiler Report both in this edition and the year-to-date export data under the STATISTICS tab.

Outbreaks of low pathogenicity H7N3 avian influenza were reported in 10 asymptomatic turkey flocks in North Carolina and one in contiguous South Carolina over the period March 13th to April 6th. Surveillance and quarantine were implemented and affected flocks were promptly depleted with on-site composting. The isolate from one additional flock in South Carolina yielded high pathogenicity H7N3 as collected at the time of depletion. Epidemiologic investigations are in progress to ascertain the source of infection. No additional flocks were identified with H7N3 avian influenza virus with two rounds of surveillance. If this outbreak is attributed to migratory birds as in Minnesota in March 2015, it may denote infection of the Atlantic Flyway with implications for turkey flocks in the Shenandoah Valley and broiler flocks in Eastern North Carolina and on the Eastern Shore.

The Newcastle disease outbreak in Southern California is detailed in the Broiler Weekly Report posted in this edition. The outbreak appears to have ended with no incident cases since February 25th. No turkey flocks have been infected with Newcastle disease from 2018 to date.

The Administration concluded a last-minute modification to NAFTA to create the trilateral USMCA on November 30th 2018. Modifications to the USMCA were negotiated and signed in Mexico in early December 2019. Subsequently, the USMCA was approved by the Senate of Mexico in late 2019 and by the U.S. Congress in January 2020. The Agreement was ratified by the Parliament of Canada during the second week of March. The U.S. turkey industry shipped 173,544 metric tons or 62.6 percent of all turkey exports to Mexico, valued at $389 million during 2018. In 2019 Mexico received 176,789 metric tons representing 60.9 percent of turkey exports valued at $427 million.

Copyright © 2020 Simon M. Shane