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More Hogs than Expected

The USDA March Hogs and Pigs report did little to help explain why numbers were high, other than to simply admit that hog inventory counts from previous surveys were too low.



Pork supplies in the first quarter of 2015 were expected to rise one percent. In reality, first quarter pork production was up five percent. This is because they were 4.5 percent more hogs that weighed about a half percent more than their year earlier counterparts. More hogs at heavier weights has pushed prices down says Chris Hurt, and that’s not the end of it.
Quote Summary - There is an even more price depressing force coming to the market as the number of hogs coming to market in the most recent four weeks has remarkably been ten percent higher than year-ago levels. Higher than expected current numbers may mean that the breeding herd expansion is larger than USDA surveys have indicated and/or that PED death losses were smaller than producers reported to USDA.
If there has been an undercount of animals, the possibility remains says Chris Hurt for higher market numbers than anticipated for the rest of the year.

As a result of the higher actual marketings in the first quarter, USDA revised last summer’s pig crop upward by nearly three percent. As always, “the proof is in the pudding” meaning that if actual winter slaughter is higher than accounted for by last summer’s pig crop, last summer’s pig crop has to be revised upward. USDA did this by increasing the estimated number of farrowings. Hurt has been wondering, based on USDA’s numbers, if the breeding herd has been expanded.

While USDA raised the size of last summer’s farrowings, the size of the breeding herd was not increased. This still leaves unanswered the question of whether the breeding herd is actually higher, which would indicate that the breeding herd has expanded more rapidly than indicated by USDA survey numbers. If the breeding herd has expanded more rapidly than future animal numbers may also be higher than indicated by the USDA counts.

More pigs coming to market in the first quarter than expected must have come from a larger breeding herd thinks Hurt. He says current marketing numbers have been averaging ten percent higher. If the marketing herd is larger, then marketing numbers could continue to surprise the market on the high side and hog prices will stay depressed.

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