AFTER ten months of the year, the long-term expansion in the broiler sector appears to be back on track, although at a fairly modest rate.

Although chick placings in the first quarter were down by 3.2 million compared with the same period last year, the situation has now turned around since then.

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Chick numbers were up by 4.2 million year-on-year in the second quarter, and by 3.5m in the third. Figures for the latest month, October, show placings holding steady.

As a result, cumulative day-old broiler placings during the first ten months of this year have shown a net increase of 4.5 million overall on 2022.

This brings the total for the January-October period to 1.01 billion, a rise of half a per cent.

In addition, the expansion rate since April shows a much stronger performance by the sector. Chick placings during the April-October period show an expansion of 7.7 million, or 1.1%, compared with the same months of last year.

Reversal of trend

If this trend is maintained until the end of the year, it will mark a reversal of the direction in 2022, when placings showed a slight decrease on the year before.

Chicken production naturally lags behind the placings figures, and in October there was a sizeable jump in output compared with a year ago.

UK chicken output was up by 8,500 tonnes (carcase weight equiv.) to 173,000 tonnes, a rise of 8.5%. This reflects the large rise in placings in August.

So far this year, chicken production has increased by 23,000 tonnes compared with Jan-Oct 2022, an increase of 1.5%.

Turkeys

In the turkey sector, the downturn has continued into October, with another sharp drop in day-old numbers. Poult placings fell by 270,000 year-on-year, or 24%.

With poult numbers dropping in every month, the total for the year to date is down 2.6m on last year to 9.5m, a fall of 21%.