BROILER output in the UK has just recorded its most significant monthly decline in recent years.
Production of broiler meat during May was down by 11.4% compared with a year earlier (measured as carcase weight), according to the latest Defra figures.
It continues an overall trend which became established just over a year ago. It means that during the past 14 months, total production of chicken has fallen by 74,000 tonnes, or 3.5%.
At the start of this year, this downward trend appeared to reverse. During the first quarter, there was an overall rise in output of 7,500t (1.7%) compared with the same period a year ago.
However, two steep falls in output in April and May have cancelled this out. Production is now down 20,800t in total in the first five months of this year or by 2.7%.
That earlier brief recovery can be attributed to a final uptick in day-old chick placings at the back end of last year.
Since January, an overall downward trend in chick numbers has set in.
Broiler chick placings have fallen by just over 3 million to 500 million in the five months from January to February this year. The latest data for May shows a drop of 1.4m.
Turkey poult placings steadied in May at 950,000, showing no change on a year earlier. However, since the start of the year, they have fallen by 190,000, or 3.8%.
Taking the last 12 months as a whole, they are down by 1.1m, or 7.3%, compared with the previous 12 months.