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Bethan Wilkins

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AHDB Pork Market Intelligence

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September US pig numbers down

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According to the latest figures published by USDA, the number of pigs on 1 September totalled 65.4 million head. This was down by 2% compared with the same point in 2013 but was 6% up on the previous quarter.

According to the latest figures published by USDA, the number of pigs on 1 September totalled 65.4 million head. This was down by 2% compared with the same point in 2013 but was 6% up on the previous quarter. The fall was a direct result of a 3% decline in the number of pigs available for slaughter, due to the lingering impact of the PEDv outbreak. Amongst slaughter pigs, the largest decline was recorded in the heaviest weight band, which would have been born around the time when PEDv cases peaked, where numbers fell by 6% year on year.

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Despite a 2% increase in the US breeding herd, piglet numbers were down by 2% compared with September 2013. However, this indicates a slowdown in the number of piglets affected by the PEDv outbreak, as the piglet counts in March and June were down by 8% and 6% respectively, compared with a year earlier. The June-August pig crop fell by 1% to 29.5 million head; the number of sows farrowed was up by 1% at 2.91 million head but the number of pigs weaned per litter fell to 10.16, from 10.33 a year before. Going forward, producers in the US intend to farrow 2.89 million sows in the period September to November, up 4% from actual farrowings during the same period in 2013, with a similar rise anticipated in the following quarter. What this means for the pig crop will depend on the extent to which PEDv cases increase again during the coming winter.