Pork Commentary: USDA Hogs and Pigs Report Its Raining Pigs!

US - The December 1st Quarterly USDA Hogs and Pigs Report surprised us with not only the growth of the breeding herd but also the size of market inventory, writes Jim Long.
calendar icon 3 January 2017
clock icon 4 minute read

Market hogs and pigs by weight group

We didn’t expect such a jump in pig numbers, as did the average of all of the other estimates re DTN Survey.

What is extraordinary is in every category the USDA report indicates higher numbers then anyone estimated. Time will tell of USDA is correct, U.S. hog marketing’s should be 4% year over year in a very short time. We wouldn’t be surprised if marketing numbers came in lower then USDA projections.

Breeding Herd

According to the USDA States with large jumps Breeding Herd – December to December

States with major declines December to December

Obviously the big expanders according to the USDA are in the states of Illinois and Missouri combined those two states added 90,000 sows. Take that out of the mix and the rest of the U.S states traded even. It would be interesting to know if producers in those states can identify that 90,000 expansion?

& To Market Hogs

When we look at December market Inventory going from 62,917,000 to 65,410,000 year over year. That is about 2.5 million more pigs in inventory. Using a 26 week birth to market estimate (182 days birth to market), Farmer Arithmetic tells us we should expect around 100,000 more market hogs a week for the next while compared to a year ago. Thank god more packing plants are being built. It can’t be soon enough. We are hearing of more packing plants being discussed by some producer groups. If the scenario of more hogs coming with the continuation of packer margins that are extraordinary, we wouldn’t be surprised if more plants get planned and built. For our readers throughout the world. Take note. The U.S will be coming hard with more pork for export. There is no other outlet for this large market hog inventory increase and the pork that will come with it.

Other Observations

• The USDA reported Friday that cash early weans averaged $49.93 U.S a head last week. The cash range 40-61. Seems to us these prices reflect strong demand, it will be interesting how if there is so many more small pigs in inventory where prices go the next few weeks.
• USDA pork cut outs averaged $80.97 at the end of last week. Reflecting continued strong pork demand despite massive levels of hog and pork production.


The New Year is coming. With it brings a sense of hope for the future. Most if not all Pig Producers are Optimists and Doers. We usually see the good relative to the bad. We expect like most years there will be twists and turns in our industry. There are reasons for optimism. Pork continues to dominate the world with 44% of meat and poultry consumption. Pork demand is excellent, as pork cut outs are amazingly high considering the record pork production. All the best in the New Year.

“The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all the world needs dreamers that do.”

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