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Weekly hog slaughter continues to run above last year’s numbers
Hog Outlook
Glenn Grimes & Ron Plain
University of Missouri - Columbia

Sow slaughter continues to run below a year earlier. Through the week ending February 18 sow slaughter was 3.3 percent below a year earlier after adjusting for the size of the sow herd.

Gilt slaughter for December was 2.3 percent below the five-year average. However, January gilt slaughter was only 0.4 percent below the five-year average and February was 0.2 percent above the five-year average. We believe the sow herd has grown some since December 1 but at a slow rate considering the profitability of the last two years.

Slaughter barrow and gilt weights in Iowa-Minnesota continue to run above a year earlier. For the week ending March 5, barrows and gilts averaged 269.9 pounds, up 3.2 pounds from a year earlier and up 0.4 pounds from a week earlier.

However, the average weights of barrow and gilt carcasses in the U.S. were at the same level as a year earlier at 199 pounds - down 3 pounds from the week ending January 14.

Hog slaughter on a daily basis set a new record high for March this week based on preliminary data. On Wednesday, we slaughtered 398,000 head. The previous largest day totaled a little less than 397,000 in 2005. Slaughter this week under Federal Inspection was estimated at 2 million head - up 1.5 percent from a week earlier and up 4.2 percent from a year ago.

February and early March slaughtered at about the same level as a year earlier had given us hopes that slaughter this year would be up less than the January data indicated.

However, with slaughter weights in Iowa-Minnesota up over three pounds from a year earlier and this week’s slaughter suggests we may have gotten false signals as to slaughter levels this year in February.

Prices for hogs came under pressure this week as packers tried to improve margins.

Top live prices Friday morning were $0.75 to $1 lower compared to a week earlier. The top live prices Friday morning at select markets were: Peoria $39 per cwt. and interior Missouri $41 per cwt.

Weighted carcass prices for negotiated hogs were from $0.29 to $3.76 lower than a week earlier. These carcass prices for Friday morning were: western Corn Belt $56.97 per cwt., eastern Corn Belt $59.61 per cwt., Iowa-Minnesota $57.55 per cwt., and nation $57.91 per cwt.

Slaughter this week was above a year earlier for the second consecutive week.

This farm news was published in the March 15, 2006 issue of Farm World.