THE turkey sector recorded a significant drop in placings in August, traditionally the peak month for the seasonal turkey market.

Poult placings during August fell by 160,000 compared with a year earlier, to 1.37m.

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This is the lowest August total recorded. Ten years ago, the placings figure for August was 2.16m.

The downturn has cancelled out the increase in seasonal poult numbers recorded during June and July.

As a result, the combined total for June, July and August has been 4.5m poults, the same figure as in 2022.

Christmas

With September’s figures yet to come, this year’s Christmas trade is still on course to reach a similar level to 2022.

The August numbers could reflect producers’ hopes of avoiding the highest-risk winter period for avian influenza by having birds ready for slaughter earlier.

Looking at the 12 months to date, however, total turkey numbers were down 690,000 to 13.6m, marking an annual decline of 5%.

Slaughtering figures for the last 12 months show a much steeper decline of 22%.

This can be partly explained by avian influenza, and partly the lag effect of the growing cycle, reflecting lower placings in summer 2022, and more level placings this summer.

Broilers

Meanwhile, broiler numbers bounced back in August, continuing the up-and-down pattern through 2023.

Day-old placings rose by 1.26m in August, compared with the same month of last year, to 93.3m.

Broiler chick numbers have changed direction every month since March, but each increase has exceeded the preceding expansion.

Hence, broiler numbers have risen by 3.2m year-n-year from the six months to August, representing a nominal increase of half a per cent.

Over 12 months, the cumulative rise was 3.7m to 1.18 billion, an even more marginal increase, particularly in contrast to annual growth rates up to 2021.

Broiler meat production this year to date has been up by 3,000 tonnes compared with Jan-Aug last year, again a fractional rise to 1.21m tonnes.