DOMESTIC turkey production looks set to fall this Christmas with the release of the latest placings data for the holiday period.

Numbers of turkey poults placed on UK farms were down by 17% in September, effectively the final month of the seasonal placings window.

See also: August turkey placings drop to a new low

This amounted to a year-on-year decline of 266,000 during the month.

On top of this, Defra has reviewed its poult placings figures and revised the numbers significantly down since the start of the year.

Total day-old placings in the nine months from January to September are now reported to be down by 2.28m to 8.68m, a fall of 21%.

Seasonal window

Over the June-September seasonal window, the fall is by 930,000 birds down to 5.1m, a drop of 15.4%.

The Christmas turkey market is naturally divided up into distinct sectors, including more traditional farm gate and butchers’ customers, supermarket fresh turkeys, and foodservice; apart from frozen, which can be reared at any time.

Among those poults placed for the fresh market, it is not easy to break down which sectors have been impacted the most by these reduced numbers. However, the September cutbacks indicate that sales of smaller retail birds are also likely to be affected.


The broiler sector had a relatively steady month in September, following the marked pick-up in August.

Chick numbers rose just slightly by 0.2%, or 150,000, in September compared with the same month a year earlier.

This brings the running total for the year to date to 897,000, an increase of 3.9m over 2022, or 0.4%.

Overall in September, UK production of poultrymeat showed a fall of 1.1% compared with the year before. This figure includes old hens and ducks, but not geese.

Against the backdrop of the various issues facing the poultrymeat sector, total UK output for the nine months to September was down by 19,000 tonnes to 1.46m tonnes, marking a fall of 1.3%.