[A larger view.]
Over 400 million fewer chickens were killed and eaten last year according to recent numbers from the USDA. That's about four and a half percent. Maybe the downturn has something to do with the economy, but I wonder. Maybe the methods of reporting or gathering data have changed.
But chicken meat is the cheapest meat. If an economic downturn was responsible, there would probably be a reduced consumption of cows and pigs - since their meat is more expensive -- and a somewhat commensurate increase in the consumption of chickens. But USDA reports that the number of animals slaughtered was reduced across the board, as was the consumption of many animal products. Only egg production remained firm.
Half a million chickens is a lot of animals. Maybe these absolutely large numbers (even if relatively small) are the result of reduced demand for reasons other than economics. Maybe fewer people feel good about eating each other. Time will tell.
Commercial hog slaughter totaled 113.6 million head, 2 percent lower than 2008;
Commercial cattle slaughter during 2009 totaled 33.3 million head, down 3 percent from 2008;
Commercial calf slaughter totaled 944,200 head, 1 percent lower than a year ago;
Commercial sheep and lamb slaughter, at 2.52 million head, was down 2 percent from the previous year.
Livestock Slaughter 2009 Summary Agricultural Statistics Board
April 2010, NASS, USDA
Commercial chicken slaughter totaled 8,658,860,000 down from 9,075,112,000 in 2008;
Commercial turkey slaughter totaled 245,768,000 down from 271,265,000 in 2008;
Commercial duck slaughter totaled 22,767,000 down from 24,149,000.
Poultry Slaughter 2009 Summary Agricultural Statistics Board
February 2010, NASS (National Agricultural Statistics Service), USDA
Total cheese production, excluding cottage cheeses, was 10.1 billion pounds, 2.0 percent above 2008 production. Wisconsin was the leading State with 26.0 percent of the production.
Butter production in the United States during 2009 totaled 1.57 billion pounds, 4.3 percent below 2008. California was the leading State in butter production and accounted for 33.1 percent of the production.
Dry milk powders: (2009 U.S. production, comparisons with 2008);
Nonfat dry milk, human --- 1.51 billion pounds, down 0.7 percent;
Skim milk powders --- 222 million pounds, down 40.6 percent.
Whey products: (2009 U.S. production, comparisons with 2008);
Dry whey, total --- 1.00 billion pounds, down 7.5 percent;
Lactose, human and animal --- 723 million pounds, down 3.1 percent;
Whey protein concentrate, total --- 415 million pounds, down 6.3 percent.
Frozen products: (2009 U.S. production, comparisons with 2008);
Ice cream, Regular (total) --- 920 million gallons, down 1.1 percent;
Ice cream, Lowfat (total) --- 381 million gallons, down 0.6 percent;
Sherbet (total) --- 53.1 million gallons, down 8.0 percent;
Frozen Yogurt (total) --- 74.4 million gallons, down 5.3 percent.
Milk Production 189,992 million lbs in 2008. 189,320 million lbs in 2009.
Dairy Products 2009 Summary Agricultural Statistics Board
April 2010 49 NASS, USDA
U.S. Average Number of Layers Down 1 Percent: Layer numbers during 2009 averaged 337 million, down 1 percent from the year earlier.
The annual average production per layer on hand in 2009 was 268 eggs, up 1 percent from 2008.
U.S. Egg Production Up Slightly: Egg production during the year ending November 30, 2009 totaled 90.4 billion eggs, up slightly from 2008.
Table egg production, at 77.7 billion eggs, was up 1 percent from the previous year.
Hatching egg production, at 12.7 billion eggs, was down 5 percent from 2008.
U.S. December 1 Inventory Numbers: The total number of chickens on hand on December 1, 2009 (excluding commercial broilers) was 450 million birds, up 1 percent from last year.
Chickens and Eggs 2009 Summary Agricultural Statistics Board
February 2010 NASS, USDA