The record-high second-quarter litter rate achieved by U.S. hog producers sets up the U.S. industry to surpass Canada’s long-standing lead in this production metric.

According to the USDA's July issue of its Livestock, Dairy and Poultry report, while the Canadian industry as a whole has yet to achieve a 10+ litter rate in its spring-quarter production, one province in particular, Manitoba, has consistently scored a 10+ litter rate in each quarter since 2004. Manitoba’s spring-quarter litter rate peaked at 10.7 in 2009, however, and it appears to be trending lower. The downward trend is likely a consequence of lower investment in reproductive maintenance and technologies, brought about by negative producer returns in recent years. Looking ahead, the high valued exchange rate of the Canadian dollar, along with expectations for continued imposition of restrictive provincial environmental regulations, will likely continue to stress Manitoba producers, with implications for litter rates.