Slaughter weights from packer-owned pigs are now 4 percent heavier than last year, and livestock analysts Steve Meyer and Len Steiner, Inc., believe these heavier weights have been an attempt by companies such as Seaboard Foods to make up for reduced hog numbers resulting from Porcine Endemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv).

Some industry observers believe that around 1.5 million sows now have been infected. Using "some rule-of-thumb figures” based on anecdotal evidence of 2.7 pigs lost for every sow infected, this exposure would put the losses at 4 million over the last seven months.

It’s these losses that may explain the increasing hog weights.

“If numbers are short and the company still needs pounds for its customers, increasing pounds per head is about the only way to get it done,” the analysts added.  

The analysts warned that while the number of positive PEDv samples has declined slightly, it should not be seen as a “trend reversal.”

“The consensus at a major pork producer meeting was that the disease may not stop until it has infected the entire U.S. herd,” the report said. “The question then will become how long the resulting immunity levels will prevent more losses.”

Read the report here.