USDA raised its pork production forecasts slightly for the second through fourth quarters of 2014, with total 2014 pork production expected to be 22.8 billion pounds, about 1.6 percent below a year earlier.
The quarterly increase is premised on continued higher average dressed weights as well as higher than expected slaughter in the second quarter. Heavier animals are expected to partially offset lower numbers of slaughter hogs due to PEDv-related piglet deaths. For the year, average dressed weights are expected to be about 213 pounds, more than 6 pounds above average weights in 2013.
Since the onset of PEDv, pork producers have leveraged lower feed costs and PEDv-generated excess barn space to feed animals to higher weights in response to higher hog prices. Second-quarter hog prices are expected to average $84-$85 per cwt, more than 29 percent above the same period in 2013. For the year, hog prices are expected to average $76-$78 per cwt, about 20 percent above prices in 2013.