Sow, feeder prices dropping lower, quicker than expected

Rising feed costs continue to impact wean-to-finish profitability.

May 9, 2023

1 Min Read
Real Pork – Pigs Arriving to Finisher.jpg
National Pork Board

Since the end of January, early weaned feeder pig prices have dropped more than 65%, or $41.97 per head. According to the Livestock Marketing Information Center, last week's $22.05 per head, was 55.2% below last year and 42.6% below the five-year average.

This comes after the 10-to-12 pounds category started the year above 2022 levels reaching $64.02 per head by the end of January.

Since mid-March, prices for feeder pigs (40 lbs.) have also plunged from $88.55 per head to last week's price of $53.49 per head, a decline of $35.06, or 42.4%.

"Seasonally, feeder pig prices typically move lower over the summer months; this year prices started moving lower sooner and quicker than expected," LMIC noted.

LMIC also pointed out the recent peak sow price of $68.19/cwt struck much earlier this year, in mid-March versus mid-April 2022.

"Since the peak, prices have fallen more than 60%, or $40 per cwt, with last week's price falling below $30 per cwt. The last time sow prices fell below $30 per cwt was October 2020."

According to LMIC, the depressed prices stem in part from the negative profitability Iowa State University has estimated for returns for a wean-to-finish operation for the last seven months. Since last fall, wean-to-finish losses have ranged from $18 to $39 per head.

Rising feed costs continue to impact wean-to-finish profitability. Feed costs have jumped 13.4% or $13.59 per head since last year to $115.08 per head in March.

"Higher feed costs translate into a higher breakeven price, which was $98.21 per cwt in March. April's hog price was $74.22 per cwt, and assuming total feed costs remained near $115 per head for the month, estimated returns for April are expected to be negative."

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