The U.S. inventory of hogs farmers plan to sell for slaughter was 3.7 percent smaller on March 1 than a year earlier as a piglet-killing virus contributed to the smallest total herd in seven years, the government said.
The number of so-called market hogs fell to 57.05 million head at the start of this month from 59.24 million a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in a quarterly report. Ten analysts in a Bloomberg survey forecast a 6.1 percent decline.
The total herd of hogs and pigs was 3.3 percent smaller at 62.9 million, the smallest since March 2007, compared with 65.07 million a year earlier, according to the USDA. Analysts projected a 5.4 percent drop.
The number of sows kept for breeding as of March 1 rose 0.3 percent to 5.85 million, from 5.84 million a year earlier, according to the report. Analysts projected a 0.3 percent decline.
Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus has been found in at least 27 states since April, with more than 5,000 confirmed cases, according to the National Animal Health Laboratory Network. Infected suckling pigs, which are three weeks old or younger, have seen as high as 100 percent mortality.