RESTON, Va. – For 2012, US broiler production is now estimated to total 35.714 billion lbs., 395 million lbs. less than January’s estimate and 2.9 percent under the 36.778 billion lbs. new estimate for 2011, according to last week’s USDA’s “World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate” report from the World Agricultural Outlook Board. Analysts also reduced the 2011 output by 66 million lbs.

Lower expected broiler weights are prompting the reduced outlook, and hatchery data continues to indicate there will be fewer birds for slaughter most of this year, according to the Feb. 10 edition of the National Chicken Council’s Washington Report.

Broiler production was the only meat adjusted downward; the board predicts slightly more beef, pork, and turkey when compared with last month’s estimate for 2012. This shift increase in other meats, however, will probably not offset the decrease in broiler production. As a result, total poultry and meat production in 2012 is likely to total 90.772 million lbs., 198 million lbs. less than January’s estimate and 1.8 percent less than the 92.395 million lbs. reported for 2011.

For both 2011 and 2012, estimated broiler exports were increased. Export estimates for 2011 were 7.012 billion lbs., an increase of 50 million lbs. from the January estimate and 3.7 percent over the 6.765 billion lbs. in 2010. The board also upped broiler exports for 2012 by 50 million lbs. to 7.050 billion lbs., up 0.5 percent from the 2011 level.

The wholesale broiler price, 12-city average, for 2011 was listed at 79.0 cents per lb., which is the same as the January estimate and 2.2 cents per lb., or 2.9 percent higher than the 76.8 cents per lb. in 2010. Due to anticipated reduced broiler production, analysts see better broiler prices this year vs. last month’s estimate and last year’s price. USDA expects the broiler price to average between 82-87 cents per lb. in 2012, compared with 80-86 cents per lb. in January’s report.