US pig herd largely recovered from PEDv
Latest figures from USDA’s hogs and pigs inventory show that the country’s pig herd on 1 March was 7% larger than a year earlier, at 65.9 million head.
A year before, the PEDv outbreak was close to its peak and had led to high levels of piglet mortality and, hence, a dramatic reduction in pigs being kept for slaughter. The extent of the recovery is emphasised by the fact that the 2015 figure is higher than that for 1 March 2013, before the PEDv outbreak began. This reflects a larger sow herd, with breeding pig numbers up 2% in the year to March, at just under 6 million head. In addition, productivity had improved and the litter size in the latest quarter was the largest on record for the time of year, although still somewhat behind the long-term trend.
The report also confirms that, as expected, producer intentions for future farrowings are somewhat less positive than they were a few months ago. This reflects the sharp fall in US hog prices; recent quotes have been less than half the level recorded last summer and were at their lowest level in more than five years. Despite feed prices remaining low, this means that producer margins are reported to be back in the red, after a bumper year in 2014. As a result, while 2% more sows were farrowed between December and February, with a similar rise expected in the following quarter, intentions for the June to August quarter now suggest a 2% year-on-year fall in farrowings. However, as this is unlikely to have much impact on supplies before the end of the year, prices may remain below recent levels.