After recovering from Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus in 2014, pork producers not only regained productivity levels lost during that time, but surpassed previous levels on a steady upward trend. That level of improvement contributes to the record number of hogs evident in USDA’s third quarter Hogs & Pigs report released on Thursday (read Sara Brown’s market report here).
The average pigs saved per litter was a record high of 10.65 for the June-August period this year, compared to 10.58 last year. Pigs saved per litter by size of operation ranged from 7.80 for operations with 1-99 hogs and pigs to 10.70 for operations with more than 5,000 hogs and pigs. Since the percentage of pigs raised by those larger operations continues to grow, it makes sense that there would be more pigs on the market.
U.S. hog producers intend to have 3.07 million sows farrow during the September-November 2017 quarter, up 1% from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2016, and up 5% from 2015, the report said. Intended farrowings for December-February 2018, at 3.02 million sows, are up 1% from 2017, and up 3% from 2016.
It’s a credit to U.S. producers, says Kevin Grier, President of Kevin Grier Market Analysis and Consulting, Guelph, ON.
“From a Canadian perspective, we look at the U.S. with envy in terms of capacity. But the breeding herd increasing between 1% and 2% is similar to what’s happening in Canada. What’s interesting is watching productivity increases,” he says. “The root of expansion seems to be productivity.”
Ron Plain, Professor Emeritus at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO, agrees. He says this is the twelfth quarter in the last 13 that the actual number from USDA has turned out higher than farrowing intentions.
“I’m not blaming USDA, but full recovery from PED was faster than most people expected,” he says. “We’re continuing to do well on breeding and reproduction across the industry.”
“When you look at breeding herd and farrowing numbers, things seem to match up,” says Altin Kalo, Senior Analyst at Steiner Consulting Group, Merrimack, NH. “Slaughter numbers are starting to pick up and are likely to continue through the end of this year. Expect these numbers to stay around 2% or higher compared to a year ago.”
Grier, Plain and Kalo participated in a teleconference on Thursday, hosted by the National Pork Board.