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Don't look for USDA to make any major revisions

by 5m Editor
24 September 2003, at 12:00am

US Swine Economics Report - 23rd September 2003. - Regular report by Ron Plain on the US Swine industry, this week predicting this Friday's, USDA's quarterly survey of the nation's hog inventory.

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Ron Plain
Ron Plain

This Friday USDA will release their next quarterly survey of the nation's hog inventory. My calculations indicate the breeding herd is down 2% from a year ago and the market hog inventory is 3% smaller than on September 1, 2002.

In their June report, USDA predicted June-August farrowings would be down 2.1% and September-November farrowings to be down 0.8% compared to a year earlier. I'm a bit more bullish. I believe summer farrowings were actually 3% smaller than a year ago. I'm forecasting fall farrowings to be 2% smaller than a year earlier and winter farrowings to be even with last winter. I believe that pigs per litter this summer were close to last year's level, making the June-August pig crop also 3% smaller than a year ago.

My estimates of the September 1 market hog inventory by weight groups are: 180 pounds and heavier 95%, 120-179 pounds 97%, 60-119 pounds 97%, and under 60 pounds 98%. An increase in imported pigs from Canada is the reason the lightweight group is down only 2% when the pig crop was down 3%.

Hog slaughter during the first three weeks of September was 4.6% below the same weeks last year. Since the number of slaughter hogs imported from Canada each week has been about 20 thousand head above year ago levels, U.S. hog slaughter during the first three weeks of September probably would have been down 5.6% had we received the same number of Canadian slaughter hogs as last year.

My estimate of the number of hogs in the 60-179 weight groups imply that fourth quarter hog slaughter will be 2% below year-ago levels, assuming we continue to receive large numbers of Canadian slaughter hogs. Slaughter actually could be down even less because hog producers accelerated marketings of hogs during the third quarter of 2002. Pork production should be down even less, since weights are likely to be well above last fall's level.

If my light weight inventory estimate is correct, first quarter 2004 hog slaughter is likely to come in 1-2% below the number slaughtered in the first quarter of 2003.

Don't look for USDA to make any major revisions in their past numbers. Since the first of June, hog slaughter has been within 1% of the level implied by the June quarterly report.

5m Editor