GLOBAL - A year ago, porcine epidemic diarrhoea (PED) was raging out of control in the US. Outbreaks continue there - affecting the state of Georgia for the first time in late February - and although they are less numerous, the disease continues to impact the hog and pork markets. The disease rumbles on in Japan and there has been one new outbreak in Canada. The December census in the UK reveals another fall in the number of female breeding pigs, especially in pregnant gilts.
Porcine epidemic diarrhoea (PED) may no longer be hitting the headlines but the disease continues to cause devastation on the farms it touches and impact the markets.
In the United States, PED has been confirmed in the last week in the state of Georgia for the first time.
Results from two samples from pigs at the Georgia Junior National Livestock Show held in February tested positive for the PED virus (PEDv). These latest cases bring the total number of US states affected by PED to 35.
They are not included in the latest update from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which covers the week 22 to 28 February.
In that weekly report, the number of pig farm samples that are confirmed positive for PEDv was 78, with five premises confirmed with the similar but milder porcine deltacoronavirus (PDCoV) and 11 with the dual infection (PEDv and PDCoV).
The total numbers of premises with confirmed positive status for the current week are 969, 42 and 44 for PEDv, PDCoV and the dual infection, respectively.
In Canada, one new outbreak of PED was confirmed last week in Ontario, bringing the total number of farms in the province affected since January 2014 to 77.
PED outbreaks continue to be regularly reported by the Japanese press.
US hog market analysts have been drawing comparisons between this year and last in terms of the scale of the losses and the resulting market conditions.
Chris Hurt of Purdue University described the "boom and bust" market. A year ago, the new PEDv was the talk in the livestock media, fear set in among some pork buyers and hog and pork prices exploded to record highs with the national live price reaching $100 per hundredweight.
In recent weeks, live hog prices reached five-year lows near $45 per live hundredweight.
Steve Meyer thinks that these lower prices are not fully justified by supplies.
Looking ahead to the upcoming 'Hogs and Pigs' report, he thinks the biggest question facing this market is whether hog numbers return to expected levels or stay at five per cent or so above those levels through April.
And finally, turning to the UK, the total English pig herd increased by two per cent in the year to December 2014. Fattening numbers were also up two per cent but there were four per cent fewer sows at just 313,000. The number of in-pig gilts was 12 per cent below the level a year earlier.
On pig herd productivity in Great Britain, the number of pigs sold per sow per year increased by 0.4 to 22.7. With carcass weights also rising, the amount of pig meat produced per sow rose by three per cent or 50kg to 1.82 tonnes in 2014.