Canadian pork producers had 12.4 million head of hogs on farms as of Jan. 1. That's down 10 percent from Jan. 1, 2008, and 17 percent less than on Jan. 1, 2007. The numbers come from a report that's prepared jointly by Statistics Canada and USDA.

Canada's breeding head, at 1.4 million head, dropped 7 percent from 2008 and 1 percent from the previous quarter. At 11 million head, market hog numbers were 11 percent short form a year earlier, and 4 percent lower than last quarter.
 
The Jan. 1 pig crop, coming in at 7.86 million head, was 3 percent lower than 2008, and 4 percent lower than in 2007. Sows farrowed during this period ending Jan. 1, 2009, totaled 799,200 head, down 4 percent from a year ago.

The Canadian data puts the combined U.S. and Canadian inventory of all hogs and pigs for December 2008 at 79.1 million head. That's down 4 percent from December 2007, but still 2 percent high than in December 2006.

The two countries' combined breeding inventory, at 7.49 million head, is 3 percent less than December 2007, but nearly unchanged from the previous quarter. Combined market hog inventory, at 71.6 million head, was down 4 percent from last year and down 3 percent from the last quarter.

Combined, the U.S. and Canadian pig crop, at 36.3 million head, was down 4 percent from 2007, but up 3 percent higher than in 2006. Sows farrowed during this period totaled 3.79 million head, down 5 percent from last year.

"Nothing in today's USDA report alleviated our concern that too many pigs are coming to market," wrote J.P. Morgan analyst Kenneth Goldman in a note to investors.
 
Part of the challenge is that productivity gains are more than canceling out breeding herd reductions. Also, keeping the concern level high for both countries are slower sales in the export market.
 
Source: Statistics Canada