Large hog slaughter numbers in April indicate lower piglet losses this year, according to Steve Meyer and Len Steiner in a recent “Daily Livestock Report.” Part of these lower piglet loss levels can be linked to the reduction in outbreaks of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv).

“Piglet survival has been remarkable this year relative to one year ago and the improvement is not just because of PEDv. It is due to a sharp increase in the general health status of the U.S. herd. PEDv is the leading factor due to its huge impact one year ago,” Meyer and Steiner reported.

Companies surveyed by the University of Minnesota showed the frequency of PEDv on sow farms is significantly lower than in 2014, with the worst weeks in 2015 reporting just nine sow farms with PEDv breaks.

However, PEDv isn’t the only factor to consider.

Another factor includes “very low” incidences of porcine respiratory and reproductive syndrome (PRRS). Meyer and Steiner attribute this reduction in PRRS frequency “largely to Draconian biosecurity measures taken to fight PEDv. This year’s low PRRS figures support that conclusion.”

What do more pigs mean for the future?  

“Dec‐Feb 2016 supplies could be much like this year — good news for December and PLENTY SCARY FOR 2016,” they wrote. “The past five years have seen Q4 weekly slaughter totals run roughly 150,000 higher than those of Q1. Based on our predicted 2016 weekly numbers for Q1, that would put Q4 weekly runs at 2.45 million. The 2.438 million capacity is not a hard and fast number, but several weeks at or above that level will put heavy pressure on product prices due to supplies, and may exacerbate that pressure at the hog level due to capacity issues.

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