US Swine Economics Report - 19th December 2003.

Regular report by Ron Plain on the US Swine industry, this week looking at the trend in recent months for packers to buy hogs later in the day.
calendar icon 19 December 2003
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Ron Plain
Ron Plain

On December 30 USDA will release their next quarterly survey of the U.S. hog inventory. My calculations indicate the breeding herd is down 1% from a year ago and the market hog inventory is 2% larger than on December 1, 2002.

I expect USDA to make some significant revisions in their past numbers. Since the first of September, hog slaughter has been 3.9% above the level implied by the September quarterly report. A little over a third of this increase is due to increased slaughter of Canadian hogs. So, it looks like USDA needs to revise up their September market hog inventory by 2%. The March-May pig crop, originally pegged at 96.5% of year ago, was probably close to 98% of the spring 2002 pig crop.

In their September report, USDA predicted September-November farrowings would be down 0.6% and December-February farrowings to be even with a year earlier. I'm a bit more bearish. I believe fall farrowings were even with a year ago. I'm forecasting both winter and spring farrowings to be 1% larger than a year earlier. I believe that pigs per litter this fall were 1% above last year's level, making the September-November pig crop also 1% larger than a year ago.

My estimates of the December 1 market hog inventory by weight groups are: 180 pounds and heavier 102%, 120-179 pounds 102%, 60-119 pounds 102%, and under 60 pounds 102%. An increase in imported pigs from Canada is the reason the lightweight group is up 2% when the pig crop was up only 1%.

Hog slaughter during the first three weeks of December was 3.9% above the same weeks last year. Since the number of slaughter hogs imported from Canada each week has been about 30 thousand head above year-ago levels, U.S. hog slaughter during the first three weeks of December probably would have been up 2.6% had we received the same number of Canadian slaughter hogs as last year.

My estimates of the number of market hogs in the under 180 pound weight groups imply that first and second quarter 2004 hog slaughter will be 2% above year-ago levels, assuming we continue to receive a steady flow of Canadian hogs. Pork production should be up even more, barring an especially cold winter, since slaughter weights are trending higher.

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