USDA’s latest monthly Hogs and Pigs Report, released last Friday, shows little sign of the anticipated expansion in hog numbers, say Ron Plain and Glenn Grimes, University of Missouri agricultural economists.

The September quarterly report had predicted September/November farrowings would be up 1.4 percent and December/February farrowings would increase 3.2 percent compared to a year earlier. But the October report, reflecting what took place during the month of September told a different story. The monthly report showed that September farrowings were down 0.6 percent, and the number of sows and gilts bred during last month was up only 1 percent compared to September 2000.

The farrowing numbers point to smaller than expected slaughter numbers in 2002. This comes as a relief, as there was concern over slaughter capacity for the coming year, especially in the 4th quarter.

Another factor that appears likely to reduce 2002 slaughter is the fact that productivity gains are slowing. The sow and gilt inventory is down 1.4 percent, while last month’s farrowings were down 0.6 percent and pigs per litter were up only 0.5 percent. This is a much slower rate of productivity growth than during the past few years.

September’s pig crop was slightly less than the September 2000 pig crop. Sows farrowing during September totaled 964,000 head, 1 percent below September 2000. The sow and gilt inventory on Oct. 1, 2001 was 5.99 million head, 1 percent below Oct. 1, 2000. U.S. sows and gilts bred during September totaled 1.17 million head, up 1 percent from the same month a year ago.