Already on the path of cutting production, the chicken industry saw the largest decline in the number of broiler-type pullets hatched a month since 1992. For April, the hatching of these young breeder hens dropped 13.5 percent from the same month a year earlier, according to USDA reports. .
Also in April, the total number of pullets fell 4.6 percent compared to 2008 levels for the month. The last time a similar decline in total pullet occurred was in November 2005.
The pullets in question produce the chicks that ultimately end up in retail meat cases and food service outlets. Such a decline on the hen side eventually ends up cutting overall broiler supply. The industry's goal, of course, is to raise chicken prices, an event that a J.P. Morgan equity analyst says could surface sometime this fall and into next winter.