Tyson's bet on beta male chickens backs up supply.

By Tim Nelson
May 17, 2021
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By now, you may have noticed there's not as much poultry available as there might be under more normal circumstances. That's left some chicken chains, who you'd think would have a handle on this sort of thing, in a tough spot when it comes to ensuring continuous supply of their signature products. 

Now, on top of the much-discussed Covid closures that shut down their (and other) meat processing plants over the past 15 months, Tyson recently admitted that there's another issue which could be reducing the chicken supply. Roosters who … aren't exactly fulfilling their biological drive to reproduce. 

As mentioned on a recent Tyson earnings call, there's been an "unexpected decline" in the number of chickens they have to work with because the new crop of roosters the company introduced last year aren't exactly mating with hens in the way they'd hoped. That's led to fewer eggs, which are hatching at lower rates than they used to. 

Crowing rooster, close-up
Credit: Dag Sundberg/Getty Images

"We're changing out the male that quite frankly we made a bad decision on," Tyson's Group President of Poultry and Chief Operating Officer Donnie King told those on the earnings call. He suggested that it also could take a little while for supply to get where it needs to be, adding that "we are too dependent on the outside purchase of meat right now." 

Swinging and missing on new and improved roosters is just another issue in a growing array of them for Tyson. A class action lawsuit alleges the company is responsible for twice as many employee Covid deaths as any other meat processing company, and the crippling winter storms that blew through Texas earlier in 2021 spurred enough supply chain snags to effectively shut the company down for a week. 

So if you're wondering why there isn't as much Tyson chicken in your grocer's meat freezer, blame those less-than-virile roosters. Let's hope 2022 brings us better birds and more eggs.