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Report indicates sharp decline in hog inventory

Report indicates sharp decline in hog inventory

Pigs feeding

There were a few surprises in the Dec. 23 USDA Hogs and Pigs report. Overall numbers were down 4% from Dec. 1, 2020, coming in at 74.2 million head. Market hog inventories were also down 4% from a year ago. Breeding herd numbers were up slightly from a year ago.

Most analysts had numbers coming in higher, says Lee Schulz, Extension livestock marketing economist at Iowa State University.

“Any time a number comes in more than 1% differently than pre-report estimates, I consider it a surprise,” he says.

Schulz says most of the drop can be attributed to the sharp decrease in market hog numbers. Those numbers were also down 1% from the previous quarter.

According to the USDA, the September-November 2021 pig crop, at 33.7 million head, was down 4% from 2020. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 3.01 million head, down 5% from 2020.

The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 49% of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.19 for the September-

November period, compared to 11.05 last year.

Schulz says more pigs saved could signal a return to increased productivity.

“The industry has been dealing with some disease issues over the past couple of years, so maybe that is now behind us,” he says.

Hog producers intend to have 2.94 million sows farrow during the December 2021-February 2022 quarter, up slightly from the actual farrowings during the same period one year earlier, but down 8% from the same period two years earlier.

Intended farrowings for March-May 2022, at 3.01 million sows, are down 1% from the same period one year earlier, and down 4% from the same period two years earlier.

Schulz says it’s also important to remember that USDA makes revisions going back eight quarters in the December report. Data is also included from all 50 states in the December report, and not just the top 16 hog-producing states.

The report also said that between September and November 2021, 33.7 million pigs were weaned on U.S. farms, down 4% from the same time period one year earlier. From September through November 2021, U.S. producers weaned an average of 11.19 pigs per litter.

Producers intend to have 2.94 million sows farrow between December 2021 and February 2022, and 3.01 million sows farrow between March and May 2022.

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