Markets: UK laying flock approaches 40 million layers

Another surge in pullet chick placings looks set to take the laying flock to a new high in the summer.

Nearly 900,000 extra layer chicks were placed in January and February this year, compared with the same 2 months of 2017. An 18% rise in January was followed by an 11% increase in February.

It means that the UK laying flock is likely to hit a new high of around 37.3 million birds in July, at a time when the market is often at a lower ebb at the start of the summer holiday period.

The trade will be hoping that any summer set-back will be shallow and short-lived. In the long-run, demand for UK-produced eggs has proved resilient enough to withstand the pressures from steadily rising production in recent years.

In the shorter-term, however, there have been set-backs and the brunt of these have been borne by the free-range sector. As the principle source of the ongoing expansion, free-range has regularly fallen out of step with the rise in consumption.

Ken Randall

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