Turkey production plummets in first-half 2009

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON — During the first six months of 2009, turkey meat production totaled 2.8 billion lbs., down 9.4% from the same period in 2008, according to the most recent Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook from U.S.D.A.’s Economic Research Service. The production drop was primarily due to a decline in the number of birds slaughtered.

During the first half of 2009, the number of turkeys slaughtered was down 9.5% compared with the first half of 2008. There was also a small reduction in the average weight of birds going to slaughter compared with a year earlier.

For the second half of 2009, the forecast for turkey meat production is 2.94 billion lbs., down 6.7% from the same period in 2008 and 35 million lbs. less than the previous forecast. The turkey meat production decrease is expected to come primarily from a smaller number of birds slaughtered because the average weights at slaughter are not expected to be significantly different from the previous year.

During the first six months of 2009, the number of turkey poults placed for growout totaled only 141 million, down 9.6% from the same period in 2008 and 9.7% lower than the number placed for growout in the first six months of 2007.

Turkey stocks growth has been slower than normal due to the smaller number of birds slaughtered and lower turkey meat production. Turkey stocks at the end of June were 596 million lbs., higher than the previous year but significantly lower than had been anticipated.

With lower production expected to continue in the second half of 2009, the ending stocks forecast for third and fourth quarters were both reduced. The estimate for ending stocks in the third quarter was reduced by 50 million lbs. to 635 million, and the ending fourth-quarter stocks estimate was lowered by 10 million lbs. to 375 million.

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