Prices Rally Despite Slaughter Totals Exceeding Pig Crop Trends

swine looking at camera

Report Snapshot

Production Summary

Slaughter totals are far outpacing USDA pig crop estimates, and I expect that the USDA will again make a large revision to pig crop numbers in the next Hogs and Pigs Report.

For the December-February quarter, slaughter surpassed the pig crop by 250,000 to 300,000 head per month. I continue to think that limited gilt retention is playing a role in the decline of the breeding herd and is partly behind the discrepancy between the slaughter and pig crop totals.

Meanwhile, sow herd liquidation continues at an aggressive pace. Year to date, sow slaughter is up 4.7% year over year (YOY) through the first seven weeks of 2024, resulting in the removal of an extra 20,000 sows from the breeding herd compared with last year.

When combined with December 2023’s 16,000-head increase versus December 2022, sow slaughter has risen by 36,000 head since the USDA’s December 1 Hogs and Pigs Report. This alone would reduce total sow numbers by 0.6% from the December 1 total to March 1, 2024.

Current Forecast numbers for Pork, Q2 2024

Feed costs are expected to decline an additional $10/head during the next four to six months, further improving margin prospects.

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