Pork production rose above beef production this year, and if the USDA’s quarterly hogs and pigs report is any indication, pork availability will continue for months to come.
The USDA Wednesday reported record-high inventories of hogs and pigs on Dec. 1 with the breeding herd up about 1% from a year ago, the market hog inventory up a similar amount and pigs saved per litter going up.
The report may not have a huge effect on cattle or hog futures Thursday since the numbers were in line with pre-report estimates, however.
In its Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report, the USDA said the US inventory of all hogs and pigs on Dec. 1 was 68.3 million head, up 523,000, or 0.77%, from 67.8 million a year ago. The new inventory was up a slight 124,000, or 0.18%, from 68.2 million on Sep. 1, and is the highest inventory of all hogs and pigs since quarterly US estimates began in 1988.
The US breeding inventory, at 6.002 million head, was up 63,000, or 1.06%, from 5.939 million last year and up only 16,000, or 0.27% from 5.920 million the previous quarter.
Market hog inventory, at 62.297 million head, was up 459,000, or 0.74%, from 61.838 million last year, and up 107,000, or 0.17%, from 62.190 million last quarter. This also is the highest market hog inventory since quarterly US estimates began in 1988.
It is interesting to note that the largest increases in market hog populations occurred in the heaviest weight categories. Those 180 pounds and more numbered 12.296 million head on Dec. 1, up 625,000, or 5.36%, from 11.671 million a year earlier.
The September-through-November 2015 pig crop, at 30.271 million head, was down 362,000, or 1.18%, from 2014’s 30.633 million.
Sows farrowed during the last quarter totaled 2.875 million head, down 119,000, or 3.97%, from 2.994 million a year earlier. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented about 48% of the breeding herd.
However, the average number of pigs saved per litter was a record high 10.53 for the September-through-November period, compared with 10.23 last year. Pigs saved per litter by size of operation ranged from 8.20 for operations with 1-99 hogs and pigs to 10.60 for operations with more than 5,000.
The number of pigs saved per litter is back on its long-term trend line and shows the industry has dealt with the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus successfully. Last year, the industry was losing millions of baby pigs to the virus, but inoculating the sows has almost halted the disease’s spread.
CASH CATTLE UP $4 TO $6
Cash cattle markets Wednesday continued to trade lightly at $122 to $124 per cwt on a live basis, up $4 to $6 from last week. Trading has been light as sellers were asking $125 to $126.
No trading was reported in dressed markets, although offers were mostly $194 to $196.
Some think product values are in the process of bottoming after two weeks of sharply reduced production. There are ideas of increased beef features in January, which could support the cutout.
Another storm is expected to hit the Plains and Western Midwest this weekend. Cash prices may trend higher next week as packers will be purchasing for a full production schedule.
The USDA reported sharply higher wholesale beef prices Wednesday with choice up $3.37 per cwt from Tuesday to $194.90, and the select cutout up $3.85 at $187.50. The choice/select spread narrowed to $7.37 from $7.88 on Tuesday, and there were 118 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.
The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Tuesday was $151.14 per cwt up $0.11. This compares with the Jan settlement Wednesday of $163.07, up $4.42.