THE downward trend in broiler production became steeper last month, with no sign yet of a return to confidence by the industry.

Chick numbers in April recorded their second-biggest monthly decline throughout the past 12 months.

See also: Poultry ration prices drop further this month

Total day-old placings in April were down by 3.6m compared with a year earlier, to 107.3m.

Although there have been significant recent falls in ration costs, these are likely to have come too late to influence chick orders for April, so a potential recovery in placings is something to watch for in the coming months.

For now, though, the number of chick placings has been down in each of the first four months of this year, amounting to a cumulative fall of 7.4m on 2022, or nearly two per cent.

Chicken production

Over the longer term, the rolling 12-month total to April is now down 2.6m to 1,175m.

Chicken production, which lags behind the placings figures, also showed a sharp fall in April.

Output was down by nearly 11,000 tonnes to 160,000 tonnes, a year-on-year drop of 6.4%. This is the lowest April total since 2017.

So despite a strong start in January and February, this brought down the total for chicken production since the start of the year to a net downturn of 6,400t, or close to one per cent.

With turkeys, it was a different story, and placings of day-olds in April showed their strongest trend for well over a year.

Total poult placings in the month were up by 2.7% compared with the same month last year, an increase of 30,000 to 1.09m.

However, that still leaves the 12-month running total down by 7.7% to 13.6m.