Breeding Herd Predicted to be Larger Than a Year Ago

US - On 27 June, USDA will release the results of their latest survey of US hog producers, writes Ron Plain in his latest "Swine Economics Report".
calendar icon 23 June 2014
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My predictions are that the breeding herd is 2.0 per cent larger than a year ago; the market hog inventory is 3.6 per cent smaller; and the total herd is 3.1 per cent smaller than in June 2013. The unusual combination of more breeding animals and fewer market animals is the result of increased pig death loss caused by the PED virus.

My estimates of the 1 June market hog inventory by weight groups are: under 50 pounds 96.9 per cent, 50-119 pounds 95.6 per cent, 120-179 pounds 96.3 per cent, and 180 pounds and heavier 96.7 per cent of a year earlier.

Slaughter of barrows and gilts during March-May was down 5.3 per cent from a year earlier. USDA's March report implied spring slaughter would be down 3.7 per cent. I anticipate downward revision of USDA's September-November pig crop estimate. Spring carcass weights were 8.6 pounds above year-earlier levels which imply delayed slaughter and would account for some of the lower-than-expected slaughter.

It appears that the average daily hog slaughter during June will be 3 per cent to 4 per cent lower than last year which is in line with the March survey.

Hog profits have been record high in recent months which is a good reason to anticipate a fast growing sow herd. Adjusted for imports, slaughter of US sows during March-May was down 6.9 per cent, out of a sow herd that was 0.3 per cent larger than 12 months earlier. However, our gilt slaughter data show fewer gilts retained this spring than last. I believe the PED virus is slowing herd growth.

In their last inventory report, USDA predicted that March-May farrowings would be up 2.4 per cent compared to 12 months earlier and June-August farrowings would be 2.0 per cent higher than a year earlier. I think that spring farrowings were up 2.0 per cent. I'm forecasting summer farrowings to be up 2.4 per cent and September-November farrowings to be up 2.8 per cent compared to last fall.

I'm estimating the PED virus caused pigs per litter to be down 5.0 per cent this spring. USDA said pigs per litter last winter were down 5.5 per cent compared to a year earlier. My estimate is the March-May pig crop was down 3.1 per cent from a year earlier.

If my market hog inventory estimates are close to right, hog slaughter during the third quarter of 2014 should be down roughly 4 per cent compared to a year-ago. I expect hog slaughter during the fourth quarter to be down 3 per cent compared to the number slaughtered in October-December 2013.

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