USDA’s latest Hogs and Pigs Report said the market hog inventory was down a tiny 0.04 percent at the start of December and the breeding herd was up 0.2 percent.
USDA said September-November farrowings were down 1 percent, but because of a 1.3 percent increase in pigs per litter, the fall pig crop was 0.3 percent larger than a year ago. Pre-release trade estimates were for a 1 percent smaller pig crop.
Survey respondents predicted December-February farrowings would be down 1.6 percent and forecast March-May farrowings to be down 1.2 percent. The USDA numbers are much more bearish than the average of the pre-release trade estimates.
The national average negotiated carcass price for direct delivered hogs on the morning report last Friday (Dec. 28) was $80.40 per cwt., up $1.66 cents from the previous Friday.
The Western Corn Belt was $2.92 higher than last Friday at $81.64 per cwt. The Eastern Corn Belt averaged $79.95 per cwt., and Iowa-Minnesota had a morning price average of $83.16 per cwt., today.
Peoria had a live top of $52.50 per cwt., on Friday. Zumbrota, Minn., had a top today of $56 per cwt. The top for interior Missouri live hogs Friday was $55.75 per cwt., unchanged from the previous Friday.
The Thursday afternoon calculated pork cutout value was $81.56 per cwt., down 34 cents from the previous Thursday. Loins and hams were lower, pork bellies steady, and butts a bit higher. The pork cutout value is $4.47 per cwt., lower than a year ago.
The national average hog carcass price this morning is 98.6 percent of the cutout value, which is high.
Because of Christmas, hog slaughter was light this week. Hog slaughter this week totaled 1.755 million head, down 25 percent from the week before and down 10.5 percent compared to the same week last year.
The average barrow and gilt live weight in Iowa-Minnesota last week was 273.6 pounds, unchanged from a week earlier and down 2.1 pounds from a year ago. This was the 13th consecutive week with weights under the year-ago level.
Year-to-date hog slaughter is up 1.7 percent while pork production is up 1.8 percent.
Hog futures lost ground this week. Friday’s close for the February lean hog futures contract was $86.37 per cwt., down 53 cents from the previous Friday. April hog futures ended the week $1.50 lower at $90.12 per cwt. May hogs settled at $97.60 per cwt.; June hogs at $99.60 per cwt.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers with questions or comments for Ron Plain or Scott Brown may write to them in care of this publication.