Posted March 31, 2014
The impact of a nearly year-long battle against a deadly pig virus that has swept the U.S. swine herd may be reflected in a new USDA report.
USDA’s quarterly Hogs and Pigs report out March 28 indicated that the number of hogs in Iowa and around the U.S. has dropped considerably in the past three months.
As of March 1, the U.S. inventory stood at 62.9 million head. This was down 3 percent from March 1, 2013, and down 5 percent from December 1, 2013. In Iowa, the nation’s leader in pork production with more than 30 million marketed a year, the herd was 19.8 million head on March 1. That was down from 20.5 million on Dec. 1, 2013, a 3 percent decline, and 1 percent under the total from March 1, 2013.
U.S. breeding inventory, at 5.85 million head, was up slightly from last year, and up 2 percent from the previous quarter. Market hog inventory, at 57.0 million head, was down 4 percent from last year, and down 5 percent from last quarter.
The December 2013-February 2014 pig crop, at 27.3 million head, was down 3 percent from 2013. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 2.87 million head, up 3 percent from 2013. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 50 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was 9.53 for the December-February period, compared to 10.08 last year.
Iowa hog farmers saw the number of pigs saved per litter drop from 10.6 during the previous quarter to 9.90 for the December to February period, the lowest total in three years.
Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) has killed an estimated 4 to 5 million baby pigs since it was discovered in the U.S. last April. It is not a public health or food safety issue, but the virus is extremely lethal for piglets up to three weeks of age.
Nearly 1,600 confirmed cases have been found on Iowa farms. Nationally, more than 4,700 cases have been confirmed in 27 states. PEDV is impacting both large and small producers.