US Swine Economics Report

by 5m Editor
17 March 2004, at 12:00am

Regular report by Ron Plain on the US Swine industry. Hog slaughter during the first half of March was 2% above the same period last year.

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Ron Plain
Ron Plain

On March 26 USDA will release the results of their latest 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 March 1, 2003.

I expect USDA to make some revisions in their past numbers. Since the first of December, hog slaughter has been 2.8% above the level implied by the December quarterly report. A little less than half of this increase is due to increased imports of slaughter hogs from Canada. Thus, it looks like USDA needs to revise their December market hog inventory upwards by 1.4%. The June-August pig crop, originally pegged at 97.9% of year earlier, was probably slightly larger than the summer 2002 pig crop.

In their December report, USDA predicted December-February farrowings would be up 1.5% and March-May farrowings to be down 1.2% compared to a year earlier. I believe winter farrowings were up 1% from a year earlier. I'm forecasting spring farrowings to be even with a year ago and summer farrowings to be 1% smaller than the summer of 2003. I believe that pigs per litter this winter was close to last year (8.81 pigs), making the December-February pig crop 1% larger than a year ago.

My estimates of the March 1 market hog inventory by weight groups are: 180 pounds and heavier 102%, 120-179 pounds 103%, 60-119 pounds 103%, 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 half of March was 2% above the same period last year. Since the number of slaughter hogs imported from Canada each week has been about 25 thousand head above year-ago levels, U.S. hog slaughter during the first half of March probably would have been up 1% 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 second and third quarter 2004 hog slaughter will be 3% above year-ago levels, or a bit more if we continue to get a large inflow of Canadian slaughter hogs.

5m Editor