US Hog Herd at Record Levels as 2015 Wraps UpThu, 24 Dec 2015 09:44:38 CST
Two years after Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea killed 7 million piglets and drove up pork prices, hog farmers have rebuilt their herds. The quarterly USDA Hogs and Pigs report released on Wednesday says there are a record 68.3 million hogs on the farm, "the highest inventory of all hogs and pigs since quarterly U.S. estimates began in 1988." The hog census counted 62.3 million head being fed for slaughter, also the highest quarterly total since 1988.
Farmers are slowing down herd expansion in the face of softening hog prices. They say fewer sows will give birth from December through February than same period a year earlier. The fall pig crop, at 30.3 million head, was 1 percent smaller than fall 2014.
Other key findings in the report were
Of the 68.3 million hogs and pigs, 62.3 million were market hogs, while 6.00 million were kept for breeding.
From September through November 2015, U.S. hog and pig producers weaned a record high average of 10.53 pigs per litter.
U.S. hog producers intend to have 2.84 million sows farrow between December 2015 and February 2016, and 2.85 million sows farrow between March and May 2016.
Iowa hog producers accounted for the largest inventory among the states, at 20.8 million head. North Carolina and Minnesota had the second and third largest inventories with 8.80 million and 7.95 million head, respectively. Illinois and Indiana are the fourth and fifth largest hog inventory states, while Oklahoma, at 2.1 million head, is the ninth largest hog inventory state.
The Oklahoma pork industry has become more of a breeding factory, birthing baby pigs that are then shipped to the midwest where there are larger supplies of feed grains. Because of that, Oklahoma has the fifth most sows in the US, with a total inventory of 470,000 head. Iowa, with just over a million sows, has the more breeding stock of any state, with North Carolina second, Minnesota third and Illinois fourth.
According to Paul Georgy with Allendale, "Hog and Pigs Report was considered neutral to friendly as most USDA numbers were under trade average estimates. However, the heavy weight hog category shows 5% larger than a year ago, while actual slaughter has been running 8% above a year. This suggests hog supplies should be much tighter over the next several weeks."
In a conference call after the report was released, Dr. Ron Plain of the University of Missouri says he was amazed at how well producers are doing in the pigs per litter category- Dr. Plain saying "it's the third consecutive quarter that we have set records in pigs per litter."
Meanwhile, Steve Meyer with EMI Analytics says that the problem that this report raises is that in 2016, there will be times when we have more pigs ready to be slaughtered than capacity to process them New processing capacity is coming, but Meyer says it won't be coming online until the middle of 2017.
You can hear comments from both Plain and Meyer in an audio overview of the report with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays by clicking on the LISTEN BAR below.
To review the complete Hog and Pigs report, click here.
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