By Trudy Kelly Forsythe
The Turkey Farmers of Canada is reporting that production is up minimally for Canada’s 543 registered turkey farmers.
"In 2011, 158.9 million kilogram of turkey was produced, up from 158.1 Mkg in 2010," says Turkey Farmers of Canada executive director, Phil Boyd. "From January to October of 2012, production was 131.0 million kilogram, 0.4 million kilogram higher than in the same part of 2011.
"Given the production quota that is in place, November and December production is expected to be several hundred thousand kg higher than year earlier," he adds.
Canadians consumed 143.4 million kilogram of turkey or 4.2 kilograms per capita, in 2011, with the greatest consumption in the last part of the year.
"In 2011, about 78 per cent of all whole turkeys were sold in the last four months of the year," says Boyd. "Domestic disappearance this past Thanksgiving – September and October – was 32.8 million kilogram, down 5.7 per cent from 34.8 million kilogram a year earlier."
Boyd points out, however, that there’s always some year-to-year and month-to-month variability.
As in other livestock sectors, 2012 has had its share of challenges for turkey producers. High, unpredictable feed costs were a major issue facing turkey farmers in 2012.
"This past spring, it was expected that the highest U.S. corn acreage and exceptionally rapid pace of planting would result in lower feed costs in the 2012/2013 crop year," says Boyd. "At the end of May, the average cost of a tonne of tom feed was around $460."
And while there was a widely held belief at that time that feed prices would move lower as new crop supplies became available, the drought and heat wave caused feed costs to go as high as $550 in early September.
On a positive note, surprisingly good soybean harvests across much of North America is pushing down costs, something Boyd says defied conventional wisdom a few months ago. "High and volatile feed prices will likely continue due to tight supplies of feed grains and rigid demand for 4.5 to 5 billion bushels of corn used for ethanol production in the US each year."
Looking forward, turkey producers are expecting to see continued growth. As a result, for the quota year running from May of 2013 to April 2014, the industry is implementing an increase in production of turkeys for further processing, says Boyd.