With the extremely large numbers of slaughter pigs coming to market in the past three weeks there has been a lot of commentary written on where these numbers of pigs are coming from. Are producers pulling pigs forward in an attempt to reduce sale weights and feed grain usage or are pig numbers really this large and USDA undercounted pigs in the last two pig reports?

Regardless of which of these scenarios you believe, the runs are large and the underlying industry trends will remain. I’m working on my presentation for the 2012 AD Leman Swine Health Conference in St Paul, MN on September 17-18. The topic I’ve been asked to talk about is the impact of heavy market weights on facilities and equipment.

In preparation for this talk I’ve been reviewing US and Canadian trends. In the US, since 1988 we’ve added 1.4 lb to our barrow and gilt dressed slaughter weight per year since 1988. At the same time, both US and Canadian producers have been rapidly improving the performance of the breeding herd, averaging more pigs per litter weaned and more litters per inventoried female per year.