THE UK’S broiler sector has bounced back in 2021 with a confident start, according to the latest chick placings from Defra.

The number of commercial chick placings showed a sharp increase in January to an average of 23.2m chicks per week, a rise of 6% compared with the same month last year.

See also: How poultrymeat markets will change post-covid

This gave a total for the month of 116m day-old chicks and marks the highest January total on record, even after allowing for the upward revisions to the survey carried out by Defra last year.

The previous January high was in 2018, at 105m under the old survey, which can be estimated as closer to 114m when adjusted for the new methodology.

Defra recently announced a significant revision to its broiler chick placement figures, which now include “additional participants” in its monthly survey.


One thing that can be safely concluded is that the industry put down far more birds this January – amid lockdown – than in January 2020.

The overall increase of some six million birds is only the second month there has been a year-on-year increase since the pandemic took hold.

By itself, it is large enough to offset around three-quarters of all the monthly cutbacks in 2020.

As the country begins to look to an end to the current lockdown, there are signs that the broiler sector is gearing up for a return to normality.

It could also be a reflection of the changes in trade dynamics that Brexit has brought.