US pig herd recovery is complete
As at 1 September, the US pig herd had increased to 68.4 million head, according to the latest Hogs and Pigs report published by USDA. This was 4% up on the same point in 2014 and 2% higher than the previous quarter and represented the largest herd since quarterly estimates began in 1988.
A year before, the effects of the PEDv outbreak were still lingering, which was having a knock on effect on the number of pigs available for slaughter. However, it appears now that the US herd in general has now recovered. While all weight bands recorded an increase in September, compared to a year previously, pigs in the heaviest weight band of 180 pounds (82kg) and over had decreased compared to the previous quarter.
The US breeding herd and the number of piglets both recorded a 1% increase in September, compared to the previous year. However, the number of sows farrowing between June and August decreased by 2% year on year, with estimates of sows farrowing for the next two quarters decreasing as well. Although supply was short and demand was high when PEDv took its toll, it appears that supply has picked up and demand has steadied off, so pig prices have fallen. The latest USDA cold storage report has recorded that as at 1 September there was 297,600 tonnes of pork in storage, 21% more year on year, suggesting that prices may be staying low for some time. Nevertheless in the latest quarter, the average number of piglets weaned per litter reached a record high of 10.39, 2% up on the year, confirming that the US herd performance has largely recovered from the effects of PEDv.