The United States Department of Agriculture’s quarterly Hogs and Pigs Report released Sept. 25 indicates the pork industry has returned to full productivity after high feed costs and a 2013 virus slowed production and reduced pig numbers.
The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service report shows that Iowa pig farmers had 21.2 million head as of Sept. 1. It’s the second highest inventory logged since records began in 1870 and trails only the December 2014 inventory of 21.3 million. The Sept. 1 inventory was up 1 percent from June and up 2 percent from last September’s 20.8 million head.
The June-Aug. quarterly pig crop was 5.40 million head, up 3 percent from the previous quarter, but 5 percent below last year. A total of 500,000 sows farrowed during this quarter. The pigs-saved-per-litter average was 10.80 for the June-Aug. quarter, a record high.
As of Sept. 1, producers planned to farrow 490,000 head of sows and gilts in the Sept.-Nov. quarter and 485,000 head during the Dec. 2015-Feb. 2016 quarter.
“With the Iowa breeding herd estimate the same as in June and 2.9 percent below year-ago levels, producers appear to be showing self-control during this expansion phase recognizing that the excellent returns in 2014 were unusual circumstances and, therefore, are cautious about expanding,” said Iowa State University Extension livestock economist Lee Schulz. “The same can be said regarding both the U.S. and Iowa farrowing intentions, which are smaller than last year.”
USDA said the U.S. inventory of all hogs and pigs was 68.4 million head. This was a 2 percent increase from June 1 and 4 percent more than September 2014. It’s the most hogs and pigs the U.S. has had since quarterly estimates began in 1988.
Breeding inventory, at 5.99 million head, was up 1 percent from last year, and up 1 percent from the previous quarter. Market hog inventory, at 62.4 million head, was up 4 percent from last year, and up 2 percent from last quarter. This also is the highest market hog inventory since quarterly estimates began.
The June-Aug. 2015 pig crop, at 30.6 million head, was up 1 percent from 2014. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 2.94 million head, down 2 percent from 2014. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 50 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high 10.39 for the June-Aug. period, compared to 10.16 last year.
United States hog producers intend to have 2.92 million sows farrow during the Sept.-Nov. quarter, down 2 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2014, but up 5 percent from 2013. Intended farrowings for Dec.-Feb. 2016, at 2.87 million sows, are down 1 percent from 2015, but up 4 percent from 2014.
“These record inventories should not be too surprising given expectations coming into the report and the fact that the U.S. industry has set records on a regular basis,” Schulz said. “With higher feed costs and Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus in the rear-view mirror, the industry is back on track in regard to herd numbers and productivity growth.”