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Hog numbers up, profit still likely

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) yesterday released data to show the size of the United States swine herd, along with the number of breeding stock on farms across the country and the number marketed.

As of December 1, 2018, the United States inventory of hogs and pigs totaled 74.6 million head, up two-percent from last year. The size of the breeding herd is down slightly from the previous quarter, but up two-percent from December of last year. The market hog supply is up two-percent.

Swine production has become a specialized industry where a small number of large operations dominate the market. A lot of hogs are fed on farms across the Midwest and southeast, but well over half of those are owned by big integrators who place the pigs out on contract to be fed from weaning to market weight.

Growth in the swine industry may be attributed to two factors: strong exports and relatively cheap grain and protein here in the United States.

Steiner Consulting Group analyst Altin Kalo says the pig numbers were just below trade expectations, which should be friendly to the market. The farrowing number for December-February is projected to be two-point-five-percent higher than a year ago.

AUDIO: Profit Matters 12-21-18

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