US pig herd smaller year-on-year in June

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

The US pig herd was 2% smaller year-on-year as of 1 June 2021, according to the latest inventory data from the USDA’s Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report.

Despite being lower on the year, at 75.7 million head the national herd was 1% larger than it was at the last count on 1 March, with all categories growing.

However, compared to June 2020, all categories of pigs remained smaller in number, following the trend from March. Both the breeding pig and slaughter pig inventories were 2% smaller on the year at 6.2 million head and 69.4 million head, respectively.

Within the number of pigs for slaughter, the greatest declines were seen in those weighing under 23kg (50lbs), followed by those weighing between 23-54kg (50-119lbs).

Between March-May, the number of pigs weaned in the US fell 3% year-on-year to 33.6 million head, partly explaining the lower numbers of lighter pigs in the inventory. The average litter size over that period was 10.95 pigs per litter, down slightly from 11.00 during the same period a year ago. A total of 3.01 million sows farrowed during the same period, down 3% on the year. Reports suggest that some US pig producers have had issues with herd health of late, which could partly reflect the lower breeding numbers.

Looking forward, farrowing intentions for summer and autumn are also lower in comparison to the previous two years, which could indicate some reduction in slaughter numbers in subsequent periods.

US hog prices had been rallying strongly since the beginning of the year. However, at the beginning of June, reports suggest the market reacted to news of the size of growth in the Chinese herd, dramatically reversing its bullish trend.

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