According to Defra’s latest placings figures, broilers numbers were down again in March.
That completes a full quarter of declining chick numbers compared with the same period of last year.
The decline in March was the sharpest for four months, so there is no sign that the UK broiler sector has recovered its confidence.
Placings in March were down by more than two million on the same month last year, to 93m.
Since the start of this year, chick numbers have now dropped by 3.3m year-on-year to 296m. During the six months to March, they fell overall by 4.9m.
Meanwhile, chicken production in March fell by 2,530 tonnes (carcase weight) to 142,000t, as the most recent falls in placings came through the processing plants.
Despite this, output in the first quarter overall remains on the plus side by 4,250 tonnes, thanks to the bump in production in Jan/Feb, which followed the rise in placings in December.
Taking over a longer period, the trend in UK chicken production is still negative. Total output in the six months from October to March was lower by 21,000 tonnes compared with the same period a year earlier.
For turkeys, March brought a glimmer of improvement, marking the first month since January 2022 that day-old placings showed no fall on the year before.
Poult numbers in the month were up by 5,000 on March last year, to 859,000.
In the 12 months to March, they fell cumulatively by 1.3m or 9%.