Egg Industry News and Commentary

  —  Apr 5

Weekly Broiler Production and Prices


The March 29th 2017 edition of the USDA Broiler Hatchery Report confirmed that 175 million day-old chicks were placed among the 19 major broiler-producing states during the week ending March 25th, two percent more than the corresponding week in 2016 Total chick placements for the U.S. amounted to 182 million. Average hatchability was 83 percent for eggs set three weeks earlier. Cumulative placements for the period January 7th through March 25th amounted to 2.15 billion chicks, two percent more than the corresponding period in 2016.


For the processing week ending March 25th 158.402 million broilers were processed at an average live weight of 2.81 kg or 6.18 lbs. (2.80 kg. last week) and a yield of 76.0 percent. The number of broilers processed was 2.8 percent more than the corresponding week in 2016. Processed (RTC) broiler production attained 332,702 metric tons, 1.2 percent more than the corresponding week in 2016. Processed (RTC) broiler production in 2017 has attained 4,062,411 metric tons YTD, 0.6 percent more than YTD 2016.

The USDA Southern States (SS) benchmark prices in $ per kg. as reflected in successive weekly editions of the Broiler Market News Report will be posted as the Georgia Dock benchmark has been terminated. 

The values from the March 31st edition (Vol 64: No. 13) are tabulated with a comparison with the previous week:-


USDA SS. Previous Week

USDA SS.     Past week $/kg.



Ice-pack Broilers




Line-run Tenders




B/S Breasts




Whole Breasts




B/S Thighs




Whole Thighs








Leg Quarters




Wings (cut)




The USDA National Composite Weighted Wholesale price was unchanged at $2.16 per kg. for the week ending March 25th compared to $1.90 per kg. during the corresponding week of 2016; $2.08 for March 2017 and $2.06 for the 3-Year average. Currently the USDA Composite benchmark price is equivalent to the 3-year average.

The USDA Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook released on March 15th noted that the proportion of broilers below 1.94 kg (4.27 lb.) in live weight decreased by 16 percent since the first week in January contributing to a 10 percent increase in the next highest category of 1.95 (4.29lb.) to 2.84 kg (6.25 lb.) in live weight. At the upper end of the weight range, broilers above 3.50 kg (7.7 lb.) decreased by 13 percent adding to the 2.85 (5.5 lb.) to 3.50 kg (7.7 lb.) category which increased by 22 percent.

Terence Wells of Urner Barry on March 31st confirmed a decline in average live weight of 5.0 percent from 3.18kg at the beginning of January to 3.02 kg during mid-March. Citing USDA data Wells notes a 1.4 percent reduction in the live weight of heavy broilers from 4.21 kg in January to 4.15 kg in mid-March.

On March 27th cold storage holdings at selected centers amounted to 37,763 metric tons, down 6.0 percent from an inventory of 40,193 metric tons on March 1st 2017.

According to the most recent March 22nd 2017 USDA Cold Storage Report, issued monthly, stocks as of February 28th 2017 compared to February 29th 2016 showed differences with respect to the following categories:-

  • Total Chicken category decreased by 1.7 percent to 357,624 metric tons on February 28th 2017 compared to 363,961 metric tons on February 29th 2016
  • Leg Quarters were down 2.1 percent to 51,250 metric tons consistent with increased exports
  • The Breasts and Breast Meat category was up by 5.8 percent to 87,060 metric tons due to price competition from dark meat.
  • Wings showed a 4.7 percent increase, contributing to a stock of 32,483 metric tons,
  • Paws and Feet decreased by 0.8 percent to 8,477 metric tons
  • It is noted that the Other category comprising 136,691 metric tons represented a significant 38.2 percent of inventory on February 28th 2017.  

Placements of chicks and level of slaughter are in accordance with USDA projections.

Most nations have placed regional and state-wide embargos following diagnoses of LP and HP avian influenza in a limited number of contract farms in South-central Tennessee and contiguous North-central Alabama and a single case in Northwest Georgia. Exports will be affected by the report of the emergent North American lineage H7N9 HPAI in broiler breeder flocks and H5 LPAI in a turkey grow-out flock. The extent of embargos will depend on whether importing nations apply regionalization. South Korea and some Middle East Nations have imposed bans on the entire U.S. The current situation is however fluid and will be monitored closely by the USAPEEC which issues regular advisories.

China is still a holdout but for other than phytosanitary reasons, since a variety of strains of HPAI and LPAI are endemic in regions of the country but are suppressed applying vaccination.

The status of Cuba as a significant importer will continue unchanged until the incoming Administration establishes a policy on trade with the Island Nation.

The effect of restrictions on exports from Brazil following the allegations of irregularities in inspection and certification of beef have yet to be assessed. Indications suggesting restoration of normal supply predicate minimal impact on U.S. sales of leg quarters which only indirectly compete with products from Brazil. 

It is presumed that Dr. Sonny Perdue, the nominee as Secretary of Agriculture, will have a positive influence on the Administration with respect to broiler and turkey exports. A favorable confirmation hearing took place on March 23rd with an affirmative vote by the Senate anticipated shortly.