The figures below capture two primary drivers of U.S hog production since the second half of 2013: the onset of PEDv, which has resulted in fewer animals, while lower feed prices and excess barn space from PEDv deaths have allowed producers to slow down the finishing process in order to add weight to surviving animals, thereby limiting production losses.
Figure 1 shows litter rates from the most recently completed quarter, published in the June Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report. The March-May litter rates show the negative impact of the disease on U.S. hog industry productivity. The incidence of PEDv deaths falls disproportionally on preweaned piglets, whose digestive systems are not sufficiently developed to withstand the severe dehydrating effects of the virus.
The second figure shows average dressed weights from January 2012 through May 2014. Lower corn prices from a larger crop coincided with increasing PEDv deaths. PEDv deaths created holes—and excess barn space—in the hog production chain, allowing producers to hold surviving animals longer on cheaper corn-based rations. Heavier animals continue to partially offset production losses from PEDv-related deaths.