STRONG overall chick placings in 2021 meant it was most likely a record year for the broiler sector, and the number of day-olds was up by 1.5% on 2020, or 17m.

The final total for the year reached 1,185 million and was helped by a more confident trend in the last two months of 2021, following a weaker period that set in during the summer (see chart).

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Placings in November were exceptionally robust, showing a rise of nearly four million on the same month a year earlier.

However, the second half as a whole saw a net fall of 7m chicks compared with the same period in 2020.

This was offset by the sharp expansion shown in the first half of last year, when chick numbers had been up by nearly 24m year-on-year, an average rise over the six months of 4%.


Because Defra overhauled its placings survey at the start of 2020, it is hard to be certain about comparisons made with the years before this.

The previous record for annual chick placings was set in 2018, but an estimated adjustment suggests that last year’s total was up by 2-3m on the 2018 figure.

Turkey poult placings held steady in the last two months of the year, and overall there has been little change in the annual total over the past two years.

The total of day-olds for 2021, at 15.1 million, was up by 200,000 on 2020 and down by 100,000 compared with 2019.

One noticeable shift over the two years has been a reduction in the number of birds placed from June to September and an increase in the other months of the year.