US Swine Economics Report: Hog Slaughter on a high

Regular report by Ron Plain on the US Swine industry.
calendar icon 10 October 2006
clock icon 3 minute read
Ron Plain
Ron Plain

Hog slaughter has been very high recently. Prior to six weeks ago, the biggest one-day total for federally inspected hog slaughter was 410,088 head on December 16, 2004. That date now officially ranks as the 13th largest kill day. If the preliminary data for the last two weeks is accurate, then December 16, 2004 is the 22nd largest slaughter date. By the end of 2006, the 410,088 hogs slaughtered on December 16, 2004 probably won't make the top 50 kill days.

The current record for the biggest one-day hog kill is 419,151 on September 12, 2006. Before the year is over, there will probably be several days with hog slaughter in excess of 420 thousand. Why the huge daily slaughter during September? The new Triumph slaughter plant in St Joseph, Missouri is adding 16,000 head to U.S. daily slaughter capacity. The Triumph plant began operations in January and added a second 8-hour shift in August. It takes time for all the workers to become skilled at their jobs; but once they do, the Triumph plant will process 16,000 hogs per day.

Despite having 20 days with slaughter totals higher than the old record, September 2006 was not even close to a record for monthly hog slaughter. Federally inspected hog slaughter last month totaled roughly 8.7435 million head. The record for federally inspected hog slaughter during September is 8.8974 million head in September 2004 (a month with 21 slaughter days whereas September 2006 had only 20). The record hog slaughter for any month is 9.5465 million in October 2003 (a month with 23 slaughter days).

Despite record weekday slaughter, Saturday hog slaughter was fairly light last month. Since they have to pay workers overtime wages, packers prefer not to operate on Saturday. Normally, there are so many hogs ready for slaughter during the fall that several packing plants have to operate on Saturday. In 2001, there was only 1 post-Labor Day Saturday with hog slaughter below 100,000 head. With the increased slaughter capacity available because of Triumph, this year's Saturday kill is lower. There has already been four Saturdays since Labor Day 2006 with hog slaughter under 100,000 head.

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