U.S. hog herd up 2%


Jeannine Otto, Agrinews Publications (IL)

Apr 8, 2019


DES MOINES, Iowa — The U.S. pork supply and the U.S. hog herd just keeps on growing.


“These are increases on top of huge, huge numbers and that’s what the reality of it is, is a lot of pork,” said Kevin Grier, president of Kevin Grier Consulting in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.


Grier was one of three livestock market analysts who gave their thoughts on the second quarter U.S. Department of Agriculture hogs and pigs report. The media call is sponsored by the National Pork Board and Pork Checkoff.


By The Numbers


The numbers of the U.S. hog herd were up in the second quarter, by a count taken by the USDA on March 1. And those numbers look to keep increasing, if farrowing and productivity numbers are any indication.


The U.S. hog herd as of March 1 stood at 74.296 million pigs, up 2.1% from a year ago and in line with analysts’ pre-report expectations of being up 2%.


The U.S. breeding herd was at 6.349 million head, up 2.2% and higher than expectations of being up 1.9% from a year ago.


Farrowing numbers indicate that producers intend to keep the supply of pork to the domestic market and to the export market coming — with one notable exception.


The June-August intended farrowings number, at 3.191 million sows intended to farrow, was down 0.3% from a year ago. Analysts expected that number to be up 2.3%.


The December-February pig crop, at 32.999 million head, was up 2.8%, exactly in line with analysts’ estimates, and the pigs saved per litter for December-February were at 10.7, up 1.1% from a year ago and a notable increase from pre-report estimates of up 0.4%.


Even as the pork and pigs supply doesn’t look to decline much, one analyst noted that producers may be throttling back ever so slightly.


“I think we see with the losses that were incurred on the production side of this business through the second half of last year and into the first quarter of this year, that certainly there has been some slowing down of the expansion pace,” said John Nalivka, president of Sterling Marketing in Vale, Oregon.


The December-February farrowings, at 3.084 million litters, was up 1.6% from a year ago, but smaller than pre-report estimates of being up 2.3%.


Even with farrowings showing some steady to lower numbers, productivity has kept supplies steady...