Hog slaughter for the first month of 2010 was 8.903 million head, down 10.3 percent from the January, 2009 total. It was the smallest January production since 2005.  The January, 2010 total pork production came in at 1.809 billion pounds, 8.9 percent lower than December, 2009 and 10.7 percent lower than January 2009 levels.

“The decline in U.S. pork production during January was quite significant since we are comparing to an already low base from a year ago,” say Steve Meyer and Len Steiner in the Chicago Mercantile Daily Livestock Report.

Although a surprisingly large reduction, a comparison of slaughter days explains plays a role in the discrepancy. “We had one fewer slaughter day in January 2010 than in January 2009 and two fewer than in December 2009,” says Ron Plain, University of Missouri agricultural economist.

“On a daily basis, January hog slaughter was down 6.2 percent,” Plain continued.  “This was 4.6 percent lower than implied by the December Hogs and Pigs report.  It appears very likely that USDA will revise downward their numbers in the December report when they release the March Hogs and Pigs report.”

“The pullback in supplies and reports of strong demand from exports markets provide a bit more context to the significant run up in pork and hog prices during the first eight weeks of 2010,” add Meyer and Steiner.

Sources: CME Daily Livestock Report; Ron Plain, University of Missouri