Poultry Industry News, Comments & More

Weekly Broiler Production and Prices


Chick Placements.

The Broiler Hatchery Report released on June 5th confirmed that a total of 234.0 million eggs were set during the week ending June 1st, almost the same as in the corresponding week in 2018. A total of 181.4 million day-old chicks were placed among the 19 major broiler-producing states during the week ending June 1st. This was two percent higher than the corresponding week in 2018. Total chick placements for the U.S. amounted to 188.8 million. Claimed average hatchability was 82.9 percent for eggs set three weeks earlier. Broiler chick placements for 2019 through June 1st amounted to 4.08 billion, two percent more than YTD 2018.

Broiler Production

According to the June 7th USDA Broiler Market News Report (Vol. 66: No.23) for the short processing week ending June 1st 2019, 148.8 million broilers were processed at an average live weight of 6.09 lbs. (6.13 lbs. last week) and a nominal yield of 76.0 percent. The number of broilers processed was 0.4 percent less than the corresponding processing week in 2018. Processed (RTC) broiler production for the week was 688.7 million lbs. (344,365 metric tons), 1.1 percent less than the corresponding week in 2018. Production YTD of RTC in 2019 is 16.57 million lbs. (7,532,911 metric tons), 0.8 percent more than in 2018 YTD.

Broiler Prices

The USDA National Composite Weighted Wholesale price on June 7th 2019 was down 2.5 cents per lb. from the previous week to 97.0 cents per lb. compared to 121.0 cents per lb. during the corresponding week of 2018; 100.9 cents per lb. for May 2019 and 112 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 June 7th 2019 are tabulated with a comparison with the previous week:-







USDA SS. Past week




USDA SS. Previous 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 May 25th 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 24 percent (last week 21 percent) of processed volume.


On June 3rd 2019 cold storage holdings at selected centers amounted to 70,519 lbs., unchanged from an inventory of 70,519 lbs. on June 1st 2019.

According to the most recent May 22nd USDA Cold Storage Report, issued monthly, stocks as of April 30th 2019 compared to April 30th 2018 showed differences with respect to the following categories:-

  • Total Chicken category increased by 2.9 percent to 893.5 million lbs. (406,161 metric tons) on April 30th 2019 compared to 867.5 million lbs. (394,334 metric tons) on April 30th 2018
  • Leg Quarters were down 34.1 percent to 59.3 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 0.5 percent to 183.8 million lbs. attributed to increased domestic demand from food service and retail.
  • Wings showed a 14.6 percent decrease, contributing to a stock of 61.2 million lbs. reflecting seasonal demand and increased consumption presumably during the “March Madness” tournament.
  • Paws and Feet increased by 7.5 percent to 27.3 million lbs. as a result of variable demand from Hong Kong but at a progressively lower unit price.
  • It is noted that the Other category comprising 444.5 million lbs. represented a significant 49.8 percent of inventory on April 30th 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 445 diagnoses of vvND involving mostly “backyard flocks” (a euphemism for fighting cocks) as of  June 7th 2019. Confirmed and documented cases were located in in San Bernardino (141), Los Angeles (44), Riverside (259), 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 2018. 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 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 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 1st were posted dealing with the ongoing outbreak. (see EGG-NEWS and CHICK-NEWS under the SEARCH tab entering “Newcastle disease”).

A case of LPAI H5 strain of North American wild-bird lineage 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. This necessary requirement appeared to be advancing after the tariff on steel and aluminum from Canada and Mexico was rescinded by the U.S.  The threat of a progressive tariff on all imports from Mexico relating to migration announced on May 30th will imperil ratification if implemented.

Copyright 2019 Simon M. Shane