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US Weekly Hog Kill up 4% in April

by 5m Editor
26 April 2004, at 12:00am

US - The weekly average for hog slaughters during April is running 4.0% above a year ago, up from the last two months but slightly below the 4.4% increase that occurred in January.

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Despite a healthy increase in slaughter and heavier carcass weights, hog prices have remained well above year-ago levels due to strong domestic as well as export demand for pork. Total pork exports, including muscle meats and variety meats, in January were up 26% by volume from a year ago and in February were 31% higher than the same period last year, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

The OsterDowJones live hog equivalent, which converts the U.S. Department of Agriculture's daily direct lean-hog weighted average prices to a live basis, was $36.41 on Jan. 2. The equivalent hit a year-to-date high of $50.15 on March 23, and on Thursday was at $49.56.

Last year on Jan. 2 the live equivalent was at $31.50 and languished in the low to mid $30s throughout the first quarter then moved into the upper $30s in April. On Friday, April 25, 2003, the live equivalent was $38.99.

The estimated cattle slaughter figure for this week, at 636,000 head, was the largest since at least the third week of December and may possibly go back all the way to the final week of October once the actual figure is posted two weeks from now. USDA's actual slaughter for the week-ended Dec. 20 was 635,859.

Industry sources said improved slaughtering margins encouraged cattle packers to push more animals through the plants and that supplies of market- ready cattle have increased enough to allow them to get the animals they needed. Some sources predict a similar cattle slaughter figure next week if the slaughtering margins hold.

THIS WEEK'S ESTIMATED SLAUGHTERS, COMBINED MEAT PRODUCTION

Cattle slaughter last week was 591,000 and the year-ago figure was 670,000 a year ago. Year-to-date cattle slaughter is estimated at 9.755 million head, down 8.9% from a year ago.

Hog slaughter this week was estimated at 1.947 million head, compared with 1.978 million last week and 1.860 million a year ago. Year-to-date hog slaughter is estimated at 32.033 million head, up 1.8% from last year.

This week's combined meat production - for beef and veal, pork and lamb/mutton - was estimated at 858.0 million pounds, versus 831.5 million last week and 864.3 million a year-ago.

Broiler slaughter this week was estimated at 154.914 million head, compared with 152.185 million a week ago and 153.380 million a year ago.

Source: eFeedLink - 26th April 2004

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5m Editor