US Hog Numbers Continue Higher

By : Livestock Marketing Information Center

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The Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) was released On March 30th. As of March 1, the NASS survey said the national breeding herd was 1.5% above a year ago. Six out of the last seven years have posted breeding herd growth. The number of market hogs was record large at 64.9 million head (up 4.4% year-over-year). That market hog number came from December-February increases in both sows farrowed (up 2.8% year-over-year) and pigs saved per litter (increasing 1.8% from a year ago).

As in all recent quarterly reports, NASS made some rather significant upward revisions. For example, the previously reported number of market hogs (as of December 1, 2016) was raised by 600,000 head or nearly 1%.

Looking ahead, the LMIC is using forecasts based on a little higher number of sows to be farrowed in coming months than producers reported to NASS (the latest report was 1% higher year-over-year). That assumption follows what has occurred in recent quarters. Pigs saved per liter are expected to continue posting year-over-year increases.

In the first quarter of this year, using preliminary data for March, U.S. commercial hog slaughter is projected to be record large at 30.2 million head, a 3.1% increase compared to a year ago. Average dressed weight was down slightly from 2016’s. Pork production was 2.9% above a year earlier and record large for the quarter. Forecasts put U.S. pork exports well above a year ago. So, per capita pork disappearance for January-March was slightly below 2016’s (down about 0.8%). Slaughter barrow and gilt prices averaged above a year ago for 2017’s first quarter, increasing over 9% (the national average base price was $67.79 per cwt.).

Currently, LMIC forecasts U.S. commercial pork production in the second quarter of 2017 about 5% above a year ago. In the second half of this calendar year, production is expected to rise 2% to 4% year-over-year. Under pressure from large supplies, hog prices in recent weeks have drifted lower; usually they are rather stable to slowly increasing. April-June hog prices may average below a year ago (down 1% to down 4%). Even though pork production will likely be well above 2016’s in the second half of this year (up 2% to 4% year-over-year), hog prices could post modest year-over-year increases. If that happens, it will be the result of reduced packer margins compared to 2016’s very high levels because of new slaughter plants coming on-line and increasing competition for animals.


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