March record for US pig herd

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As at 1 March the US pig herd stood at 71 million head, the largest March pig herd in records going back to 1988, according to the latest quarterly report from the USDA.

This figure is 4% up on March 2016. The number of market hogs in all weight categories was 4% higher on the year at 65 million head. Likewise, the breeding herd was up 1% on the year in March, at 6 million head. With this in mind, the US pig herd has bounced back over the last few years from its trough during the PEDv outbreak in 2014, when the inventory fell below 62 million head.

The pig crop during December to February was 31.4 million head, up 4% from last year, as sows farrowing during this time exceeded previous expectations, rising by 3% to 3.01 million. Furthermore, sow productivity also increased, with the average number of pigs weaned per litter, from December – February, rising to 10.43, compared to 10.30 a year earlier.

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Similar to the situation back in December, it is likely that the larger pig crop will result in a rise in slaughterings over the coming months. Likewise, looking at the next couple of quarters the number of sow farrowings is expected to rise year on year. With this in mind, as well as other factors, we could see a continued rise in the US pig herd. Therefore, EU pork exports could be under some pressure from this important global competitor in the coming months.

Duncan Wyatt, Lead Analyst

duncan.wyatt@ahdb.org.uk  0247 647 8856