Pigs Report Keeps Pressure On Hogs

The Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report from the USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service Thursday was interpreted bearishly by futures traders and could be the nexus for even more price pressure in coming weeks, a market analyst said.

The US inventory of all hogs and pigs on March 1 was a record high for period at 74.296 million head, up 2% from 72.748 million a year earlier, although it was down slightly from 74.550 million on Dec. 1, 2018, NASS said in its report.




The problem for the hog and pork industries is that current hog supplies keep growing when compared against a year earlier, and that more are in the works, the analyst said.

But the report also showed growth in the breeding herd.

About 6.349 million were being kept for breeding, up 2% from the 6.210 million in the breeding herd a year earlier and up slightly from the 6.326 million on Dec. 1, 2018.

As might be expected, the number of market hogs also was up.  As it turned out, all weight categories of hogs on feed were up about 2% from a year earlier.

Those under 50 pounds numbered 21.456 million head, compared with 20.942 million a year earlier; those weighing 50 to 119 pounds totaled 18.639 million, up from 18.212 million on March 1, 2018; those weighing 120 to 179 pounds came to 15.268 million head, compared with 14.996 million, and those weighing 180 pounds or more on March 1 came to 12.585 million, versus 12.387 million a year earlier.




The number of pigs either already born or planned also was steady to mostly higher than a year ago, NASS said.

The number of sows that gave birth, or farrowed, in the December-through-February quarter came to 3.084 million, up 2% from 3.034 million a year earlier.  This resulted in a quarterly pig crop of 32.999 million head, or 3% more than the 32.101 million in the year-earlier quarter.

In addition, the number of pigs per litter grew by 1% from a year earlier to 10.7, compared with 10.58 in the 2018 quarter.

The number of sows scheduled to farrow in the March-through-May quarter came to 3.119 million head, up 1% from 3.100 million a year earlier, NASS said.

And the number of sows to farrow in the June-through-August quarter was estimated at 3.191 million head, about even with last year’s 3.200 million.




In the monthly Cold Storage report from NASS on March 22, it was reported that the nation’s storehouse of pork was rising, and market analysts tended to blame retaliatory tariffs for reducing export demand and causing pork supplies to rise.

The total amount of pork on ice on Feb. 28 came to 615.979 million pounds, up 1% from 609.813 million a year earlier.




The USDA reports cash cattle sales last week at $125 to $126 per cwt on a live basis, down $2 to $4 from the previous week.  Dressed-basis sales were slim at $206 to $208, steady to up $1.

The USDA choice cutout Friday was down $1.40 per cwt at $226.04, while select was off $0.63 at $218.89.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $7.15 from $7.92 with 75 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Thursday, was $141.74 per cwt, down $0.61.  This compares with Friday’s Apr contract settlement of $145.25, down $0.70.