Lower farrowing intentions to dampen 2013 pork production

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According to the USDA's Livestock, Dairy and Poultry report, the Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report, released by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) on September 28, reported the all hogs and pigs inventory at 67.5 million head, slightly larger than the count in September 2011. As of September 1, the U.S. market hog inventory was 61.7 million head, up slightly from the same inventory date last year. However, the breeding herd inventory as of the same date was down slightly from last year to 5.79 million.

The greatest annual inventory change came from the number of market hogs, 180 pounds and over, which was up 4.5 percent from last year. This increase was reflected in the growth in hog slaughter at the end of September, particularly in stronger Saturday kills (table 1).

Table 1. Third quarter Saturday slaughter of hogs in United States

Date

2011

Date

2012

07/02/11

2,771

 

 

07/09/11

52,435

07/07/12

80,927

07/16/11

24,091

07/14/12

694

07/23/11

3,208

07/21/12

1,498

07/30/11

3,031

07/28/12

12,205

08/06/11

31,765

08/04/12

5,927

08/13/11

26,945

08/11/12

38,471

08/20/11

2,339

08/18/12

81,010

08/27/11

62,909

08/25/12

148,129

09/03/11

50,070

09/01/12

138,196

09/10/11

307,452

09/08/12

325,924

09/17/11

176,158

09/15/12

261,235

09/24/11

182,560

09/22/12

238,060

 

 

09/29/12

175,517

Total

925,734

 

1,507,793

Source: USDA, AMS SJ_LS711 Actual Slaughter Under Federal Inspection report.

Typically Saturdays account for only a very small proportion of the total weekly slaughter, but in September 2012, several Saturday kills were over 10 percent of the total weekly kill. As such, third-quarter U.S. pork production in 2012 was expected to be 5.635 billion pounds. As a result, total U.S. commercial pork production for 2012 was forecast slightly higher from last month at 23.297 billion pounds.

click image to zoomLivestock, Dairy and Poultry The NASS report also showed a June-August litter rate of 10.13 pigs per litter (ppl), 1 percent above the rate a year ago, with a pig crop of 29,286 thousand head. September-November 2012 farrowing intentions were lowered to 2.85 million, almost 2.7 percent lower than in 2011, and the December-February 2013 farrowing intentions were 2.821 million, 1.5 percent lower than in 2012. Both of these revisions further reflect the intention of hog farmers to slightly scale back production (fig. 3).

This reduction in farrowings and breeding stock reflects what most observers have identified already: the effects of the summer 2012 drought on the U.S. feed crop have led to farmers’ intentions to reduce hog production in 2013 and thus to require fewer farrowings. While 2013 feeding margins have recovered somewhat since September, margins still remain narrow relative to expectations earlier in 2012. Hog farmers have thus decided to farrow fewer sows in 2013 than in 2012. While the number of pigs per litter is expected to continue to grow in 2013, the reduction in farrowings will more than offset the efficiency gains in sow litters, and the 2013 pig crop is expected to be lower than the 2012 pig crop. Commercial pork production is expected to be almost 23 billion pounds, which is still 1.3 percent below the annual production level in 2012. This increase is expected despite downward revisions of live hog imports in 2013.



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