The correlation between sow slaughter and subsequent farrowings is not as strong as most people expect. The number of gilts retained for breeding does not always decline as sow slaughter moves up. Nonetheless, increasing sow slaughter is still very good news.

In the first half of 2008, when corn was rising from $4.25 per bushel to beyond $7, sow slaughter moved rapidly higher. Sow slaughter slowed in the second half of 2008 as corn prices dropped back below $4 per bushel. Since spring 2009, sow slaughter has trended higher compared to the previous year. Red ink and bankers’ unwillingness to extend financing have forced a herd cutback.