Intended U.S. placements of broiler pullet chicks for the hatchery supply flock for March 2012 were 6,728,000, a 5-percent decrease from the 7,058,000 pullet chicks placed in March 2011, according to the “Chickens and Eggs” report issued this week by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The March pullet chicks combined with the previous eight months give a 7-to-15-month cumulative total of 60,377,000 hens in October 2012. The 60,377,000 cumulative potential pullet placements represent a 5-percent decrease when compared with the number for October 2011.

U.S. Broiler-Type Hatchery Supply Flock
Pullet Chicks Hatched and Cumulative Potential Placements
Pullet Chicks HatchedPotential Placements,
Cumulative 7-15 months earlier
September7,1101037,1281006,6579361,6639863,321103 60,86096
Annual Total83,0339784,98710282,82698**62,11997**63,757103
Source: Chickens and Eggs NASS/USDA * Comparison with one year earlier. ** Annual Average

Note: All generations of layers that would lay eggs to supply a hatchery are included: parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, pedigree, foundation, and similar. Any pullet chicks used for research purposes, vaccine production, and specific-pathogen-free layers that are in broiler-type hatchery supply flocks are also included in the data.

Also, in the current issue of  “Chickens and Eggs,” NASS reported that the actual number of layers in the broiler-type hatching egg flock on April 1, 2012 was 52,121,000 hens, a 6-percent decrease from 55,698,000 hens on April 1, 2011.

In a related report, “The Hatchery Production 2011 Summary” from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, on January 1, 2012 there were 302 chicken hatcheries with an incubator egg capacity of 894,010,000 eggs (10 fewer hatcheries than on January 1, 2011).  Incubator egg capacity on January 1, 2011 was 910,341,000 eggs.  Thus, the January 1, 2012 capacity was 1.8 percent less than year earlier.

Regionally, on a year-to-year comparison, six hatcheries ceased operations in the North Atlantic (currently 27), East North Central was unchanged at 23 hatcheries, West North Central added three hatcheries (currently 33), South Atlantic added one hatchery (currently 78), South Atlantic had seven less hatcheries (currently 117), and the West has one less hatchery (currently 24).