Pigs

While the U.S. hog industry shows little sign of slowing down, things appear to be different north of the border.

Sow and boar slaughter is up in Canada, according to economist Len Steiner and associates. Through mid-November, that number is up 3 percent, with more sows and boars sent to American packing plants.

“Canada has sent an average of 1,000 head a week more this year when compared to 2017,” Steiner and associates wrote in the Daily Livestock Report. “Those year-to-date figures are up 13 percent through the first 44 weeks of 2018.

“In comparison, the U.S. hog industry is giving little indication that it is slowing down. U.S. sow slaughter is up 2 percent year-to-date. However, the volume of imports from Canada are as much as 15 percent of U.S. weekly sow slaughter, which indicates it’s unlikely the U.S. sows are heading to market at a liquidation rate.”

More will be known when the USDA releases its Hogs and Pigs report later this month, but Steiner and associates said the report is likely to show continued steady growth.

“The last 10 quarters have shown increases in the number of animals kept for breeding,” they said. “Among the highest quarters were the 2018 June and September increases, showing gains of 3.5 percent over 2017. Similarly the number of sows farrowing has increased every quarter for the last 11 quarters and routinely beats the previous year by over 2 percent.”

Pigs per litter numbers continue to grow, creating a 3 percent larger year-to-year crop over the last five quarters.

“The result has been tremendous gains in pork production,” Steiner and associates said. “This year, U.S. barrow and gilt slaughter is up 2.3 percent year-to-date on a weekly basis and has bumped against previous record high slaughter weeks.

“Last year, a new record high was set at 2.502 million head. In 2018, that number has been exceeded in three different weeks, making the new high 2.530 million head.”

Despite lower slaughter prices, Steiner and associates believe this indicates optimism remains in the pork industry.

“New plant facilities and infrastructure completed within the last few years are poised for market expansion and answering the call for growing pork demand,” they said. “Canada’s breeding hog sector, on the other hand, has been more stagnant over the last year. Trade uncertainties and the spread of African Swine Fever has several competing countries eyeing opportunities in the global market, and if Canada takes a back seat, it only strengthens the position of U.S. pork to benefit should those opportunities come to fruition.”

Jeff DeYoung is livestock editor for Iowa Farmer Today, Missouri Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.