There’s little question Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) will pick up as temperatures cool, but just how bad will it be? It’s a question lingering on the minds of veterinarians and producers as the weather shifts from summer to autumn. The entire industry is waiting to see if PEDv will regain momentum.

According to Ron Plain with the University of Missouri, PEDv’s comeback won’t be as severe as in winter 2013-2014. He and other economists believe the U.S. industry won’t lose as many pigs to PEDv as it did a year ago. Tougher biosecurity measures and new tools to combat the disease will likely reduce its impact over time.

Cautiously Optimistic
That’s good news for an industry still reeling from a disease that killed an estimated 8 million pigs since it was first identified in the United States last April. Unlike last year, however, pork producers are ready – biosecurity is a high priority, and all eyes are anxiously scanning herds for symptoms of the disease. Read, “PED impact in U.S. less than expected.”

The true impact of PEDv has been hard to assess, but the USDA’s third quarter Hogs and Pigs report on Sept. 26 shed new light on PEDv’s effects on U.S. hog production. In the report, the USDA predicted hog production to stabilize and return to growth. The current economic environment, with declining feed costs and higher margins, provides the perfect ingredients for an expanding hog herd.

As Plain pointed out during a National Pork Board teleconference, farrowing intentions – a better predictor of where we are heading – were headed up in the report.

“Fall intentions are up 4 percent and Dec-Jan intentions are expected to be up 3.8 percent,” explains Plain. “Unless we continue to have pigs-per-litter down due to PEDv, we could see some big increases in the pig crop ahead of us, and a big increase in slaughter.”

Change in Pigs per Litter
Some, like Daniel Bluntzer, director of research for Frontier Risk Management in Corpus Christi, Tex., felt the biggest surprise was pigs per litter, pegged at 10.16.

“We fell 6-7 percent off our pigs per litter [because of PEDv]. If we plug in the new number going forward, we’re still not back to our long-term trend but with the increase in the breeding herd, we’ll see an enormous number of hogs – more than we’ve seen in a decade or so. Will this come to pass, or are those numbers too large? The numbers points to a lot more hogs compared to last year.”

Read more from the USDA’s Hogs and Pigs report.

What does that mean for 2015? Steve Meyer and Len Steiner wrote in their Daily Livestock Report that “pork supplies should increase in 2015, but they will only be modestly higher than the supply levels we saw in 2013.”

Meyer and Steiner expect prices to decline from 2014’s inflated levels, but demand will remain a “key driver” for meat prices and could offset the USDA’s bearish predictions. Click here to read more.