US pig herd remains stable
As at 1 March, the US pig herd was at 67.6 million head, a modest increase of 0.4% on the same point last year, according to the latest Hogs and Pigs report published by the USDA.
Nevertheless, the latest figure is 1% down on December’s estimates. The total number of pigs available for slaughter as at 1 March was also marginally higher than the same point a year earlier. Breaking it down by weight band, the number of pigs in the lightest weight band, those less than 50lb (23kg), recorded a marginal decrease on the year but there were small increases in heavier bands. This suggests that supplies of slaughter pigs may reduce as the year progresses.
For the winter quarter (December 2015 – February 2016) the total pig crop totalled 29.6 million head, a very slight decrease (0.2%) on the year before. The number of pigs weaned per litter increased 1% on the year to 10.30 but this was offset by a 1% fall in the number of sows farrowed. As at the 1 March, the US breeding herd was recorded at 5.98 million head, virtually static compared to last year. Nevertheless, the number of female pigs intended for farrowing is forecast to decrease year on year in the next two quarters, by 1% in March to May and as much as 3% in June to August. This suggests that US pig producers are also feeling the struggle of low pig prices and production towards the end of 2016 and into 2017 could reduce. As the US is one of the EU’s main competitors on a global scale, a reduction in production from the US could eventually see an increase in demand for EU pig meat.
Millie Askew, Analyst
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