WASHINGTON – Government experts are predicting moderate growth in the number of broilers available for slaughter coupled with heavier average broiler liveweight through the end of the second quarter and into the third quarter, according the recently issued “Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook Report” published by U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.

The National Chicken Council’s Washington Report says this outlook contrasts with the first five months of this year when the number of broilers slaughtered was slightly lower than a year ago, while the average slaughter weights were higher.

During January-May 2010, broiler production increased 2%. Production indicators suggest 2% to 2.5% more broilers over the next several months with higher average weights adding to total pounds produced. The size of the broiler breeder flock needs to remain “steady” to achieve the projected outlook for broilers, E.R.S. noted.

However, the expected slow recovery in the U.S. economy and the impact of possibly higher corn prices and lower soybean meal costs are anticipated to affect the pace of production expansion.

Strong demand for boneless-skinless breast meat has strengthened wholesale prices for breast meat over a year ago and has stimulated more broilers to be produced in the weight category of 6.25 lbs. and higher, according to the Washington Report. With the smaller broiler export volume this year, leg quarters and other leg parts wholesale prices are down 25% from the previous year, E.R.S. said.

At the end of 2010, broiler stocks are predicted to be 670 million lbs., an increase of 9% over the 616 million lbs. at the end of 2009.