May 7 Weekly Update

5/7 – Broiler production continues to struggle, but it’s not for lack of trying by producers. With four months of data in the bank for 2018, the number of “eggs set” into incubators (through 4/28) was up 2.6% from a year ago and 4.3% above the 3-yr average (2015/17). However, the hatchability rate continues to run well behind historical norms. “Chicks placed” for grow-out are up only 1.2% (YTD) from 2017, and just 2.5% above the 3-yr average. One of the reasons for the high mortality rate is the growing demand for antibiotic-free (ABF) poultry, which has forced producers to change the way they handle eggs and production. As a result, the USDA has been paring its 2018 broiler production forecast, which is now down to 1.7% above 2017. Even so, boneless skinless breast prices at $1.29/lb are running a dime below year-ago levels and look to peak seasonally in June in the $1.50s.