U.S. hog farmers are back on track for production as a record large inventory of hogs and pigs was verified for the third quarter of 2015 by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. In its Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report, released Dec. 23, the USDA penciled 68.3 million head of pigs and hogs on U.S. farms on Dec. 1 (see figure). This total inventory was up 1% from a year ago but somewhat smaller than market analysts had predicted prior to the release of the report.
Ron Plain, University of Missouri economist, says “One thing that is amazing is what producers are able to do on pigs per litter. We have certainly bounced back with pigs per litter this fall quarter with a record 10.53 head. It is the third consecutive quarter we have set records.”
“So, producers have figured out — at least for the time being — how to live with PEDV (porcine epidemic diarrhea virus) in the nation. Those large pigs per litters are offsetting, fortunately, what is a declining sow herd,” Plain adds.
Furthermore, Plain explains that if pigs per litter rates go up while the sow herd declines, then final results for production totals will be close to last year levels but if both farrowings and pigs per litter rates climb, then the United States could end up with a lot of pigs.
All-time high pigs per litter number
The breeding inventory was up slightly smaller than last quarter by 1% above a year ago with 6.00 million head. The number of animals kept for breeding was close to market analysts’ expectations.
U.S. hog producers intend to have 2.875 million sows farrow during September-November 2015, down 4% from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2014. Intended farrowings for December-February 2016, at 2.84 million sows, are down 2% from the previous year while intended farrowings for March-May 2015 at 2.85 is unchanged.
From September through November 2015, the pig crop was calculated at 30.3 million head, down 1% from 2014. Sows farrowed during this period totaled 2.88 million head, down 4% from last year. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 48% of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter were an all-time high at 10.53 for the September-November period, compared to 10.23 last year. Pigs saved per litter by size of operation ranged from 8.20 for operations with 1-99 hogs and pigs to 10.50 for operations with more than 5,000 hogs and pigs.
Market hogs inventory
The inventory of market hogs at 62.3 million head was also increased 1% over the previous year. Looking at the market inventory by weight, the USDA shows market hogs weighing 180 pounds or more at 11.67 million head, up 5%; the 120-179 pound at 13.2 million head, up 2%; the 50-119 pound at 17.2 million head, unchanged and market hogs weighing 50 pounds or less at 19.5 million head, down 0.1%.