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Jim Long Pork Commentary: Hog weights continue to surprise

by 5m Editor
12 December 2018, at 12:00am

It appears that weekly US hog marketing's are tracking very similar to a year ago. This past week 2,558,000 last year same week 2,541,000 a 17,000 head difference.

What is really interesting to us is the average weights of the National Daily Base Lean Carcasses. A year ago they were averaging 216.73 lbs. this past week 212.46 lbs. a month ago 212.19 lbs.

Our observations despite hog marketing’s per week staying near average levels hog weights have not increased over the last month. Also we are a good 4 lbs. lighter year over year. Currently our farmer arithmetic tells us that is equivalent to between 750,000 – 1 million hogs that have been already marketed versus if they were being held (216 versus 212 lbs).

Our speculation continues that the U.S.D.A. September hogs report over estimated hogs in inventory. We expect there has been some slippage in numbers due to hurricane effects in North Carolina.

We always thought it was strange that the U.S.D.A. had 2 million more market hogs in September’s inventory compared to the year before. Our canary in the coal mine was the continued reports of cash feeder pig demand for empty finishing spaces. Didn’t add up. 2 million more hogs in inventory should have meant all barns jammed full. No way close to 2 million spaces had been built in the past year. Especially when we heard some of the major hog builders were certainly not long on work.
To us this means we could have the makings of a cash rally when as the saying goes: “The dog hits the end of the chain”.

To have a cash hog rally Pork Cut-outs need to move higher, which they are. On Friday U.S. cut-outs closed at 73.63 lb. up from 67 a couple weeks ag. Lean hogs are now at 56₵ lb. We expect cut-outs to continue to move higher. The spread for packers is good, we expect packers gross margin will narrow in the short term.

Lots of packer capacity relative to hog supply in the coming weeks, we expect lean hogs to over 60₵ lb. soon.

Reality of Production

In the Pig Change – Bench Mark Magazine they show the Mean Production for last nine years. The latest analysis of 340 farms.

As you can see Pigs weaned/mated sow per year has gone up 1.6 pigs over 9 years. That’s less than .1 per litter a year. We are surprised by that as we expected more from tracking of Genesus customers’ data over that time frame. We guess some genetics have not improved. Looking at Pig Champ Data in another way in 2013 mean was 24.88 five years later it was 24.99. Not much improvement.

Another point farrowing rate 82.62% in latest year. Not much if any improvement over the last nine years. All the improvement in pigs weaned per sow have been done by litter size. Some other interesting numbers 340 farm average:

We expect productivity increases will be continued to be challenged by lack of capable farm labour. That group housing will lead to the need for sows that have good feet and legs with a temperament that will lower sow mortality. A dead sow and involuntary culling supress pig production numbers. A dead sow is not only dead with no salvage value but a lost litter of pigs.

China Update

In Beijing region all farms with less than 500 pigs will be closed with a compensation of 1200 rmb ($171.00 U.S.) per animal no matter the weight.

China news is reporting that China has agreed to triple pork exports from the U.S. in 2019 compared to 2018. This is part of the trade agreement reached at G-20 meeting in Argentina