Poultry Industry News, Comments & More

Weekly Broiler Production and Prices


Chick Placements.

The Broiler Hatchery Report released on May 8th confirmed that a total of 232.0 million eggs were set during the week ending May 4th, less than one percent more than in the corresponding week in 2018. A total of 180.9 million day-old chicks were placed among the 19 major broiler-producing states during the week ending May 4th. This was two percent higher than the corresponding week in 2018. Total chick placements for the U.S. amounted to 188.7 million. Claimed average hatchability was 82.5 percent for eggs set three weeks earlier. Broiler chick placements for 2019 through May 4th amounted to 3.33 billion, one percent more than YTD 2018.

Broiler Production

According to the May 10th USDA Broiler Market News Report (Vol. 66: No.19) for the processing week ending May 4th 2019, 164.1 million broilers were processed at an average live weight of 6.20 lbs. (6.23 lbs. last week) and a nominal yield of 76.6 percent. The number of broilers processed was 2.1 percent more than the corresponding processing week in 2018. Processed (RTC) broiler production for the week was 785.6 million lbs. (357,113 metric tons), 3.8 percent above the corresponding week in 2018. Production YTD of RTC in 2019 is 13.51 million lbs. (6,141,870 metric tons), 0.6 percent more than in 2018 YTD.

Broiler Prices

The USDA National Composite Weighted Wholesale price on May 10th 2019 was up 1.0 cents per lb. from the previous week to 101.5 cents per lb. compared to 115.0 cents per lb. during the corresponding week of 2018; 97.6 cents per lb. for April 2019 and 101 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 May 10th 2019 are tabulated with a comparison with the previous week:-


USDA SS. Past week Cents/lb.

USDA SS. Previous week Cents/lb.

Difference. %

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 May 4 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 23 percent (last week 21 percent) of processed volume.

On May 6th 2019 cold storage holdings at selected centers amounted to 75,263 lbs., lower by 4.5 percent from an inventory of 78,663 lbs. on May 1st 2019.

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

  • Total Chicken category decreased by 2.9 percent to 845.6 million lbs. (384,339 metric tons) on March 31st 2019 compared to 871.5 million lbs. (396,124 metric tons) on March 31st 2018

  • Leg Quarters were down 25.9 percent to 64.3 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 down by 4.1 percent to 176.8 million lbs. attributed to increased domestic demand from food service and retail.

  • Wings showed a 10.2 percent decrease, contributing to a stock of 61.3 million lbs. reflecting seasonal demand and increased consumption presumably during the “March Madness” tournament.

  • Paws and Feet increased by 0.1 percent to 26.9 million lbs. as a result of constant demand from Hong Kong but at a progressively lower unit price.

  • It is noted that the Other category comprising 398.3 million lbs. represented a significant 47.1 percent of inventory on March 31st 2019. 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 assumed to be consistent with USDA projections.

There have been 432 diagnoses of vvND involving mostly “backyard flocks” (a euphemism for fighting cocks) as of May 11th 2019. Confirmed and documented cases were located in in San Bernardino (139), Los Angeles (42), Riverside (250), Alameda (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 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 spatially and temporally related 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 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 8 in May to date. 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. 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. 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.

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. In late February CAFD imposed a quarantine over the three affected counties restricting movement of poultry. The enforceability of this action is questioned given the nature of the flocks at risk and the intentions of their owners. It is understood that $45 million has been assigned for eradication although the objective of control of endemic vvND in game fowl could be achieved by hyperimmunization rather than playing “whack-a-mole” Editorials in CHICK-NEWS on December 24th and March 1 st were posted dealing with the ongoing outbreak. (see EGG-NEWS under the SEARCH tab entering “Newcastle disease”).

A case of LPAI H5 strain of North American wild-bird vintage was diagnosed on routine sampling in a flock of 9,500 breeder ducks in Monterey CA. Two biologically contiguous farms were placed under quarantine with the index case. An epidemiologic investigation is in progress. It is presumed that surveillance will be carried out in the vicinity of the farm. No decision has been made as to the disposition of the flock.

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 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 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 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 all three nations by mid-2019

Copyright 2019 Simon M. Shane