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Photo of Improved sow productivity produces largest US Q2 pig crop in nearly 50 years

Bethan Wilkins

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AHDB Pork Market Intelligence

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Improved sow productivity produces largest US Q2 pig crop in nearly 50 years

Home \ Prices & Stats \ News \ 2019 \ July \ Improved sow productivity produces largest US Q2 pig crop in nearly 50 years

The US pig population has continued its expansion. As at 1 June, the US pig herd stood at 75.5 million head, 4% more than the same point last year and 1% higher than the previous quarter, according to the latest figures from the USDA.  This is the largest June pig inventory since the records began in 1964.

  Latest US pig inventory shows (1 June):

  •          US pig herd at 75.5 million head, ↑ 4% on year
  •          Slaughter pigs ↑
  •          Breeding herd →
  •          Pigs per litter ↑
  •          Largest Q2 pig crop since 1970

Pigs intended for slaughter (market pigs) have driven the majority of the rise, increasing 4% on the year and 1% on the last quarter. Animals of all weight groups recorded a rise on the year. In particular, pigs 180 pounds and over (>81 kg) recorded an 8% increase on the year. Therefore in the short term, supplies of slaughter pigs look set to remain above last year.

US pig herd population (as at 1 June 2019) with the annual change

At 6.41 million head, the growth in the number of breeding pigs has been more marginal, at 1%. However, a lift in the farrowing rates and improved sow productivity meant the growth in the pig crop was amplified. The March-May pig crop was 34.2 million head, 4% more than in 2018 and the largest crop for this time of year since 1970. The increase has been driven by a record high of the average number of piglets saved per litter, at 11.00 per sow.    

Farrowing intentions for the rest of this year are forecast to remain relatively flat, compared to last year. However the continued improvements in sow productivity will likely mean that the pig crop will continue to grow.

With the announcement of the removal of the Mexican tariff on US pork in May, as well as the global pork deficit as a result of the outbreak of African swine fever, the current sentiment in the US pork markets is relatively positive. The US is in a good position to react to increased export demand with an expanding pig herd, good availability of pigs for slaughter, and recently expanded slaughter capacity.

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