Sow and gilt slaughter continues to support the belief that producers are building the breeding herd, at least at a slow rate, say Ron Plain and Glenn Grimes, University of Missouri agricultural economists.

Sow slaughter for the four weeks ending March 5 was down 8.4 percent from a year earlier after adjusting for herd size. Sow slaughter for the year through March 5 has been down 3.8 percent.

Gilt slaughter as a percent of barrow and gilt slaughter was down only 1 percent for the four weeks ending March 5 and down about 1 percent for the year through March 5.

With a short 3 percent in the productivity of the U.S. breeding herd on average for the past five years, the industry does not need to build the breeding herd to keep pace with demand, say the MU economists. And there’s always the threat that demand could take a hit after a 12 percent increase in 2004.