More Hog Records Set, but Signs of Downturn Appear
Hog producers set records across the board again, but the streak of 22 consecutive quarters with a record could come to an end soon. USDA’s quarterly Hogs and Pigs report indicates that nationwide inventory as of March first was up four percent at 77-point-six million head, higher than trade expectations. While market hog inventory was also up four percent at 71-point-three million, breeding inventory of six-point-three-eight million was only higher by four-tenths of a percent. Daniel Bluntzer, president of New Frontier Capital Markets, says expansion may finally be coming to an end.
While the December to February pig crop was up five percent at 34-point-seven million, Bluntzer suggests the slowdown in production could be sudden.
Sows intending to farrow this spring are slightly lower than a year ago at three-point-one-two million, while summer intentions are down four percent at three-point-one-three million. However, with pigs saved per litter again setting a record this past quarter at 11, and demand suddenly uncertain in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the potential range of production estimates is wider than in previous years. Still, Daniel Bluntzer of New Frontier Capital Markets is projecting hog prices paid to producers to increase to 69 dollars per hundredweight over the next three months, before dipping to 59 dollars by the end of the year.
Missouri’s hog population increased six percent from a year ago to three-and-three-quarters million head, with the gain entirely in market hogs. 470-thousand were kept for breeding, in line with a year ago. Compared to last quarter’s shock drop, the state’s hog population increased 400-thousand head. Missouri was in line with the national average of 11 pigs saved per litter, with two-point-seven-five million pigs farrowed over the past three months from 250-thousand sows. Another 250-thousand sows are expected to farrow in the next three months, up three percent from a year ago. However, producers are planning to have another 255-thousand sows farrow over the summer, which would be a two-percent drop from last year.