No Change in Market Hog Inventory Likely, Says Plain

US - Today, 27 December, USDA will release the results of their latest survey of the US swine herd. The report is highly anticipated for indication of the impact of PED virus on hog numbers. PED is offsetting herd expansion and productivity growth, thus leaving the market hog inventory close to the year-earlier level, writes Ron Plain.
calendar icon 27 December 2013
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My predictions are that the breeding herd is 1.0 per cent larger than a year ago; the market hog inventory is 0.3 per cent smaller; and the total herd is 0.1 per cent smaller than in December 2012. My estimates of the December 1 market hog inventory by weight groups are: 180 pounds and heavier 99.8 per cent, 120-179 pounds 100.0 per cent, 50-119 pounds 99.6 per cent, and under 50 pounds 99.4 per cent of a year earlier.

I anticipate large downward revisions of USDA's September market hog inventory estimates. Slaughter of barrows and gilts during September-November was down 4.5 per cent from a year earlier. USDA's September report implied fall slaughter would be down 0.5 per cent. It appears that the average daily hog slaughter during December will be between zero and 1 per cent lower than last year rather than up 1.1 per cent as implied by the September survey.

The sow herd is growing. Adjusted for imports, slaughter of U.S. sows during September-November was down 6.6 per cent, out of a sow herd that was 0.4 per cent larger than 12 months earlier. Our gilt slaughter data show more gilts retained this fall than last.

In their last inventory report, USDA predicted that September-November farrowings would be up 0.4 per cent compared to 12 months earlier and December-February farrowings would be 0.9 per cent higher than a year earlier. I think that fall farrowings were up 0.1 per cent. I'm forecasting winter farrowings to be up 0.5 per cent and March-May farrowings to be up 1.0 per cent compared to last spring.

I'm estimating the PED virus caused pigs per litter to have been up only 0.3 per cent this fall. If I'm right, that would be the smallest increase in pigs per litter since the summer of 2004. My estimate is the September-November pig crop was up 0.4 per cent from a year earlier.

I expect hog slaughter during the first quarter of 2014 to be down 0.1 per cent compared to a year-ago. I expect hog slaughter during the second quarter to be down 0.6 per cent compared to the number slaughtered in April-June 2013.

If I have under-estimated the impact of PED, then my market hog numbers are too high.

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