The USDA August pig crop report showed the number of sows farrowed in July and the pig crop were both below year ago levels and well below trade estimates.

Sows farrowing fell from 972,000 to 955,000 in July and the pig crop fell from 8.7 million hogs to 8.5 million hogs. The June quarterly report forecast June-August farrowings at 2.924 million or 101.2 percent of last summer’s totals. However, the July and August monthly reports said 1.927 million sows were farrowed in June and July, or 99.8 percent of the number for June-July 2000. If the monthly reports are accurate, August farrowings will have to be up 4 percent, which appears unlikely, to reach the June report’s forecast of 2.924.

The July pig crop was down 1 percent from the previous year and sows farrowing in July was down 2 percent from July 2000. This implies that January 2002 hog slaughter will be down a fraction compared to December 2000. If this pig crop number is right, expect live hog prices in the high $30s to low $40s, says Ron Plain, University of Missouri agricultural economist.

The sow and gilt inventory stayed steady from last month and pigs per litter was down from 8.96 in June to 8.91 pigs per litter in July.