After a hesitant start to the year, broiler numbers in March bounced back to one of their highest monthly figures ever.

Weekly chick placings averaged 23.8m during March, a rate of placements across the UK broiler industry only equalled in five months previously. 

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It puts the sector back on track to show an overall increase for this year to date.

The final tally of day-olds for March reached 95.1 million, up 1.6m on the same month last year. 

When combined with January and February, total chick numbers for the first quarter came to 298m, marking a year-on-year rise of 0.6%.

Output

The reduced chick placings at the start of this year in January have now carried through to a downturn in broiler output for March. 

Having risen by 7,400 tonnes across January and February compared with a year earlier, broiler production dropped 5,000 tonnes last month to 138,000 tonnes.

The slowdown in March has limited broiler output for the first quarter to 460,000 tonnes overall, which is just half a percent up on the same three months of last year.

Allt types of poultry

Output of other types of poultry in March (old hens, turkeys and ducks) recorded a significant year-on-year increase of 17% last month, to 42,600 tonnes.

This partially offset the drop in broiler output, and total poultrymeat production fell in March by 2,6000 tonnes to 152,000 tonnes. 

It leaves the combined output of all forms of poultrymeat for the first quarter ahead of 2023 by 8,600 tonnes, at 502,500 tonnes.

Turkey poult placings during March were steadier at 560,000. Although this is still slightly down on the same month last year, by 9,000, it is the smallest monthly decline for over two years.