The inventory of all US hogs and pigs on Dec. 1 was 73.230 million head, down 69,000, or 0.09%, from 73.299 on Sep. 1 but up 1.685 million, or 2.36%, from 71.545 million a year earlier.
The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service released the data in its quarterly hogs and pigs report on Friday.
It was the fourth straight December in which the report showed an increase in the size of the US swine herd.
Market analysts said it was an unusually long period of hog herd growth and likely was caused by increased slaughter capacity, which pulled on the available slaughter hog supply and created profit for producers. Iowa State University said 2017 profits could tally about $12 a head despite losses in November and probably in December.
The September-through-November pig crop, at 33.399 million head, was up about 3% from 32.372 million a year earlier.
BREEDING HERD GROWTH
It looks as though US hog producers plan to continue the expansion. The number of hogs kept for breeding totaled 6.179 million on Dec. 1, up from 6.177 million on Sep. 1 and up 69,000, or 1.13%, from 6.110 million a year earlier.
The number of hogs kept for breeding has increased from the year-earlier total every quarter this year, a sign that the trend toward larger hog slaughter will continue into 2018 at least. The extra red meat could put pressure on beef demand and prices, a market analyst said.
The number of sows scheduled to farrow from December through February totaled 3.070 million, up about 3% from a year earlier. Those to farrow in the March-through-May period totaled 3.083 million, up about 2% from 2017.
MARKET HOGS ALSO UP
The number of hogs kept for marketing, at 67.051 million head, was up 1.616 million, or 2.47%, from 65.435 million a year earlier. Market hog inventories also were up strongly from year-earlier numbers in each of this year’s quarters.
Broken down, it looks as though hog slaughter will increase into 2018 as the number of market hogs in each of NASS’ four weight categories was up about 2% to 3%. Those weighing less than 50 pounds, at 21.447 million head was up about 3% from 20.887 million a year earlier. These pigs will take the longest to mature and could hit the market around April to June.
Market hogs weighing 50 to 119 pounds, at 18.549 million head were up about 2% from Dec. 1, 2016’s, 18.102 million.
Hogs weighing 120 to 179 pounds totaled 14.105 million head, about 2% more than 13.786 million a year earlier.
And those weighing 180 pounds and more totaled 12.949 million head, up about 2% from 12.660 million a year earlier.
CATTLE, BEEF RECAP
Two lots of fed cattle sold last Wednesday on the Livestock Exchange video auction at $120 per cwt, up $4 from the previous week’s thinly tested market.
Cash cattle trade last week took place at $120 per cwt on a live basis in the Plains, steady to up $1 from the bulk of the previous week’s action. Dressed-basis sales were reported at $190 to $191 per cwt, up $2 to $3.
The USDA’s choice cutout Tuesday was up $3.04 per cwt at $202.60, while select was up $2.95 at $190.83. The choice/select spread widened to $11.77 from $11.68 with 60 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.
The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Monday was $148.72 per cwt, down $9.64. This compares with Tuesday’s Jan settlement at $144.60 per cwt, up $3.05.