US pig herd continues to break records
As at September 1, the US pig herd had increased by 2% on the previous year to 70.9 million head, according to the latest Hogs and Pigs report published by the USDA.
This figure was up 4% from June 1 2016, and, continuing a trend seen throughout this year, was the highest September count of hogs and pigs since records began in 1988. The number of pigs available for slaughter also continued to be at record levels, up 3% on September 1 2015 and 4% on the previous quarter, at 64.8 million head. Though numbers increased across the weight bands, growth was particularly strong amongst the heavier weights, with the number of pigs over 120lb (54kg) increasing by 4% on the year. Reflecting this, slaughterings will likely be up both in the short term and into the beginning of next year.
The June-August 2016 pig crop, at 32.0 million head, was 2% higher than the equivalent period in 2015. This is the highest pig crop reported for June-August since the series began in 1970. The number of sows farrowed during this period remained static on the previous year. Instead, the increasing pig crop was attributable to the number of pigs weaned per litter increasing by 2% to 10.6 during the period, which is yet another record high. With intentions for farrowings remaining stable into the new year, the increasing sow productivity points to continuing growth in the US pig herd. Further increases in pig meat production from the US are likely to deflate prices, increasing competitiveness on the global export market. As a key competitor to the European Union, these developments have the potential to negatively impact the global demand for EU pig meat.
Bethan Wilkins, Trainee Analyst
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