Reuters — The U.S. hog herd shrank less than feared in the latest quarter compared with a year earlier, leaving it well above average trade forecasts, a U.S. Department of Agriculture report showed Friday.
The data suggests the spread of the deadly porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) was not as devastating to the herd during the December through February period as some in the industry had expected, analysts said.
They said Chicago Mercantile Exchange hog futures could drop as much as the three-cent-per-pound price limit on Monday, based on Friday’s report.
USDA’s report showed the U.S. hog herd as of March 1 at 97 per cent of the year-ago level, at 62.899 million head. Analysts, on average, expected 61.493 million head, or 94.5 per cent of the year-earlier herd. The U.S. hog herd for the same period last year was 65.072 million head.
The U.S. breeding herd was just over 100 per cent of the year-ago level, at 5.851 million head, compared with average trade expectations for 99.6 per cent, or 5.813 million. A year ago the breeding herd was 5.836 million head.
The March 1 supply of market-ready hogs was 96 per cent of a year earlier at 57.048 million head. Analysts, on average, expected a six per cent decline, or 55.683 million. Last winter’s market hog supply was 59.236 million head.
The data showed pigs per litter during the period at 9.53 head, or 95 per cent of the record high of 10.08 in the year-ago period. Analysts expected an average 9.75 head.
USDA’s National Animal Health Laboratory Network, as of March 22, reports cases of PEDv in hogs at 5,017 farms in 27 states since last April when the disease first appeared in the U.S.
In Canada, since the disease first appeared in hogs in January this year, PEDv cases in hogs have been reported on 44 farms, including 41 in Ontario and one each in Manitoba, Quebec and Prince Edward Island. The most recent case was confirmed Friday on a farrow-to-wean operation in Ontario’s Elgin County.
— Theopolis Waters reports on livestock markets for Reuters from Chicago. Includes files from AGCanada.com Network staff.