This Friday, Sept. 26, USDA will release the results of their latest survey of the U.S. swine inventory. Agricultural Economist Ron Plain is predicting the report will reveal all-time records for both market hog inventory as well as total inventory. However, he predicts the breeding herd will be 3.5 percent smaller than a year ago. The predictions came in Plain’s Swine Economics Report.

USDA is not expected to make any major revisions in their previous estimates even though hog slaughter during June-August was lower than expected based on the June inventory report. The 43 percent decrease this summer in slaughter hog imports from Canada explains the difference. June-August slaughter of U.S. raised market hogs was within 0.1 percent of what the June report implied.

In their last inventory report, USDA predicted June-August farrowings would be 2 percent smaller than a year earlier and September–November farrowings would be down 4.0 percent. Plain forecasts winter farrowings to be down 5 percent compared to December-February 2007. He says financial losses due to record feed prices are driving this cut back. Through August, sow slaughter was 8.8 percent higher than a year ago.

Plain estimates that pigs per litter were up 1.5 percent this summer, making the June-August pig crop 99.5 percent of a year ago. Feeder pig imports this summer were very close to last year’s level, so the light-weight market hog inventory should be in line with the summer pig crop.

Plain sees daily hog slaughter during the first quarter of 2009 to be 1 percent lower than the number slaughtered in January-March 2008. He predicts first quarter 2009 hog prices to average close to $52 per hundredweight on a live basis and $68.50 per hundredweight on a carcass basis.