USDA’s monthly Hogs and Pigs report, released last Friday, showed the October pig crop was 1.8 percent larger than in October 2000. This report was the first to be above year-ago levels since November 2000.

The September quarterly report had predicted September/November farrowings would be up 1.4 percent and December/February farrowings would be up 3.2 percent compared to a year earlier. The November report said October farrowings were 1.4 percent higher, and the number of sows and gilts bred during October increased 2 percent compared to October 2000.

In addition, the report shows 953,000 sows farrowed in October, with a pig crop of 8.465 million head. October’s pigs per litter was 8.88, 1.197 sows and gilts were bred during the month, and the sow inventory on Nov. 1, was 5.968 million head.

While some of this information hints at expansion taking place, it remains at a moderate pace. Producers’ evident moderation in expanding the breeding herd should be a positive force that could keep the market from exceeding slaughter capacity. Consequently, live hog prices should continue profitable into next year.