WASHINGTON – Turkey production in the United States continues to rebound from an outbreak of avian influenza, as the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the US Department of Agriculture reported fewer turkey eggs in incubators, poults hatched and poults placed.
Turkey eggs in incubators totaled 25.2 million on Nov. 1, down 10 percent from Nov. 1, 2014, the NASS said in its Turkey Hatchery report. However, eggs in incubators were 4 percent higher from the Oct. 1 total of 24.2 million eggs, the agency said.
Turkey poults hatched in October totaled 20.5 million, a 14 percent decline from year-ago totals for October. Poults hatched climbed 5 percent from the September total of 19.5 million, NASS said. Net poults placed during October reached 20.3 million, down 6 percent from October 2014. Net placements advanced 7 percent from the September total of 19.0 million.
USDA reports it will be a while before turkey production regains pre-AI levels, but consumers shouldn’t worry about shortages of Thanksgiving turkeys. Most of the frozen turkeys in stores were in cold storage in March before the outbreak hit. In August, USDA reported total pounds of turkey in freezers at 494,035,000 lbs. But consumers will feel the impact of AI at the register: The Economic Research Service of the USDA forecast prices for frozen whole hens at $1.28 to $1.36 per lb. in the fourth quarter compared to $1.14 a year ago.