USDA lowered its pork production forecast for the fourth quarter of 2012 and for all quarters of 2013, as hog producers are likely to market animals at lower weights than initially expected. Feeding margins are expected to tighten compared with last year, pressuring producer returns and encouraging producers to market hogs as rapidly as feasible.

Fourth-quarter commercial pork production was lowered by 35 million pounds to 6.25 billion pounds —a reduction of about 0.6 percent—to reflect expected lower dressed weights. For 2013, total commercial pork production was lowered by 60 million pounds to 22.9 billion pounds, a reduction of about 0.3 percent.

Producers are expected to market hogs at year-over-year lower weights in the first three quarters of 2013, before dressed weights move to year-over-year higher levels in the fourth quarter as feed prices decline. Fourth-quarter average prices of live equivalent 51-52 percent lean hogs are expected to be $57-$59 per cwt. For 2012, then, prices will average $60.73 per cwt.

First-quarter 2013 hog prices are forecast at $60-$64 per cwt and at $62-$67 for the year.

Source: November 2012 Livestock, Dairy and Poultry report