Hog weights on the decline, but still more than last year
The USDA says declining hog weights suggest pork processors are managing the consequences following the supply-chain disruptions from COVID-19. Lee Schulz, a livestock economist with Iowa State University Extension, says hog weights have fallen significantly since their peak around mid-May. However, they’re still running ahead of last year. “Those weights on a live-weight basis are still 4 pounds above year-ago levels,” he says. “They had been as high as about 9 pounds above, so we have seen that separation decline some.”
The processing situation continues to improve, and the industry is working through the backlog of hogs. But he tells Brownfield, it doesn’t mean there aren’t concerns down the road. “There is still that challenge as we get into that fourth quarter of the year,” he says. “We know that there are going to be larger hog supplies. If you piggyback that on a backlog of hogs, too, we could have additional challenges.”
Schulz says hog prices hit their seasonal lows during the last quarter of the year. And if slaughter capacity is under added stress during the fourth quarter, it would add even more pressure to prices.