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US Swine Economics Report

by 5m Editor
7 October 2009, at 7:36am

US - USDA’s latest survey of the US swine inventory said the market herd was down 2.2 per cent on 1 September and the breeding herd was down 3.1 per cent compared to 12 months earlier, writes Ron Plain in his latest Swine Economics Report.

The total inventory of hogs was down 2.3 per cent. The inventory was a bit smaller than the average of trade forecasts. The breeding inventory was the smallest in over a century.

USDA said June-August farrowings were down 3.5 per cent and forecast both September-November farrowings and December-February farrowings to be down 3.1 per cent. Pre-release trade estimates put June-August farrowings at down 3.2 per cent, forecast September-November to be down 2.7 per cent and December-February down 3.1 per cent.

Pigs per litter in the June-August quarter averaged a record 9.7 head, up 2.0 per cent compared to a year earlier and the 24th consecutive quarter above year-ago levels. The last five quarters have averaged 2.36 per cent more pigs per litter, offsetting much of the decline in farrowings.

June-August slaughter of barrows and gilts was above the level predicted by the June report. So, USDA revised upward the number of litters farrowed last winter by 46,000 and raised the winter pig crop by 443,000 head compared to their June estimate.

USDA said the inventory of market hogs weighing 60-179 pounds was down 1.8 per cent on 1 September. If correct, daily hog slaughter during the fourth quarter should be down 1.8 per cent plus the drop in slaughter hogs imported from Canada. Look for carcass hog prices during October-December to average in the mid $40s.

USDA said the inventory of market hogs weighing less than 60 pounds was down 3.7 per cent on 1 September, implying hog slaughter during the first quarter of 2010 will be down 4 per cent or so given the downward trend in hog imports from Canada. I expect first quarter carcass hog prices to average in the low to mid $50s.

Hog producer have been lost over $4 billion in the last 7 quarters and are cutting production. The sow herd has averaged 2.8 per cent below year-earlier levels during the past year. But, because of more pigs per litter June-August hog slaughter was up 0.2 per cent compared to last year and due to heavier slaughter weights June-August pork production was up 2.3 per cent. The supply of pork on the market needs to be sharply reduced or a lot of hog producers will be facing bankruptcy.

Further Reading

- You can view the USDA Quarterly Hogs and Pigs Report by clicking here.