By Dan Vaught, Doane Livestock Economist
As one would expect during the week after Thanksgiving, hog slaughter surged to a fresh 2015 high last week. Indeed, that 2.424 million head total was the largest weekly result since mid-December 2007. This week’s figure is likely to fall moderately below last week’s, but history suggests next week’s result could reach 2.45 million as packers prepare for year-end holiday disruptions.
Another strong implication of recent slaughter totals is that forthcoming hog supplies will once again top the levels indicated by the most recent USDA Hogs & Pigs report. The September quarterly release stated the number of pigs in the 50-119 pound weight category as being 3% over the comparable year-ago total, thereby pointing toward similar increases in late-autumn slaughter rates. However, recent kills have averaged annual gains of about 7%. This also raises major doubts about the report’s implicit projection of winter supplies unchanged from those seen last year. Thus, the USDA will almost surely be forced to once again make major historical revisions when it releases its Dec. 23 Hogs & Pigs report.
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