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Hog industry expansion could slow down

The USDA’s Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report indicates continued near-term expansion of the U.S. herd as the industry continues to respond to domestic and export demand expectations, but there are signs that might slow down later this year.

On March 1st, there were 77.629 million hogs and pigs in the U.S., up 4% on the year, but with the market herd expanding faster than the breeding herd, a possible sign that some producers might be slowing down that expansion. The market inventory was 71.254 million head, 4% higher, and the breeding herd was 6.375 million head, slightly larger than last year. By weight for market hogs, the less than 50 pound category was 22.221 million head, the 50 to 119 pound category was 19.853 million head, and the 120 to 179 pound category was 15.581 million head, all 4% larger, and the 180 pound and heavier category was 13.598 million head, an increase of 6%.

The winter pig crop was up 5% on the year at 34.734 with a 2% increase in farrowings to 3.158 million and a record high number of pigs saved per litter at 11.0.

Farrowing intentions for this spring are expected to be slightly below a year ago at 3.119 million head, while summer intentions could see a 4% decrease to 3.134 million head.

The numbers look neutral to bearish over the near term, but could turn bullish in the long-term if those intentions are realized.

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