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U.S. hog numbers see increase with drastic rise in farrowings

Hog numbers reached record amounts, while the number of March/May much exceeded pre-report expectations.

The number of hogs and pigs in the U.S. totals 71.65 million head, which is the second largest number on record, According to the USDA’s Quarterly Hogs and Pigs Report. The report also showed March/May Farrowings exceeded pre-record estimates by 1.4%, reaching 3.06 litters.

Scott Brown is an Assistant Extension Professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Brown said the June report and reports previous outline the amount of stability the United States has in terms of sow inventories.

“The (pre-report estimate) for the March Sow Inventory was 6.068, and we came in at 6.069,” Brown said. “That certainly seems to be suggesting we’ve found some plateau in regards to sow inventory relative to a year ago. But, when you look at the percentage estimates to the one decimal place, we came in really close to the pre-report estimates in terms of that June 1 breeding inventory, as well as the June 1 market hog inventory.”

Lee Schulz is an Extension Livestock Economist for Iowa State University. Schulz said while the March/May Actual Sows Farrowing number came in quite a bit above pre-report expectations, the numbers indicate a trend.

“I think (those numbers) show a trend that we’ve seen over the last several years,” Schulz said. “In fact, going back to the March/May numbers for 2015, you see that Actual Sows Farrowing came in below either first or second intentions. I think the real implications are June, July, August, September and November of 201 getting in that trend. It’s likely those Actual Sows Farrowing could be a bit larger than expected at this point, which would really set the stage for other extra large pig crops.”

Schulz said it’s also important to look at the current economic situation, and how it will play a role in future sow farrowing intentions.

“If you look at forecasts from the beginning of the month through the end of the month, we’ve added between three and four dollars per head,” Schulz said. “If we look at returns a year out, I think it suggests those farrowing intentions could be a bit larger, even if we are starting to see pigs per litter coming in at 1%, as expected, to that 2%.”

President of Kerns & Associates Joe Kerns said he was taken back by the variation of gross numbers from state-to-state.

“Perhaps as expected with Genesis, the new plant in Iowa, Iowa added 30,000 sows. Taking that same logic and applying it to the eastern side where the Coldwater facility is soon to be operational, you don’t see the same thing. Illinois and Indiana both see a bit of a decline in their sow numbers, and that’s something I generally would not have anticipated,” Kerns said.

For the full USDA Quarterly Hogs and Pigs Report, visit http://bit.ly/2tt0IN8.