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Hog slaughter continues to run at record-high levels
Hog Outlook
Glenn Grimes & Ron Plain
University of Missouri - Columbia

Hog slaughter continues to run at record high levels. Following last week’s record high for March - 2 million head slaughtered. We had a 400,000 head slaughter on Wednesday and Thursday.

The average weight of barrows and gilts in Iowa-Minnesota for the week ending March 11 was a record high for that week at 269.3 pounds, down 0.6 pounds from a week earlier, but up 1.5 pounds from a year earlier.

Good news continues to flow from the foreign trade arena. Pork exports for January of 2006 were up 20.2 percent from 2005. The growth in January pork exports since 2004 is 50 percent and since 2003 a whopping 72 percent.

Will it be possible to get a 20 percent growth in pork exports for the year 2006 following two years of plus 20 percent growth? At least January results say yes.

Our pork exports to Japan in January were down more than 3 percent from a year earlier, but up to all of our other important markets. For January, our exports were up an average of 35.6 percent to countries other than Japan.

Our pork imports in January were up 2.5 percent from a year earlier. Net pork exports as a percent of production in January was close to 8 percent - up from 6.34 percent a year earlier.

Live hog imports from Canada in January were up 7.4 percent from 12 months earlier. Feeder pig imports were up 10.5 percent and slaughter hog imports were up 1.7 percent from 2005. The increase in live hog imports, especially feeder pig imports, was expected because of the duty on U.S. exports of corn to Canada.

We may be getting some positive impact on pork exports due to the Asian flu in poultry in several countries around the world.

With the record daily high hog slaughter, hog prices have been under pressure most of the week. Monday’s prices were mixed with higher prices in the west and lower in the east.

Even with the large exports, the negotiated market is being overwhelmed by the record high slaughter for March.

Hopefully, slaughter will trend lower seasonally in coming weeks. However, we are concerned that slaughter numbers are likely to continue to overrun expectations into the second quarter.

Top cash prices Friday morning were steady to $1.50 per cwt. lower than a week earlier. These top prices were: Peoria $38 per cwt., St. Paul $39 per cwt., Sioux Falls $38 per cwt., and interior Missouri $39.50 per cwt.

The weighted average negotiated carcass prices were 82 cents to $3.21 lower than a week earlier on Friday morning. The weighted average carcass prices by area were: Western Cornbelt $56.15 per cwt., Eastern Cornbelt $56.40 per cwt., Iowa-Minnesota $56.46 per cwt., and nation $56.26 per cwt.

Cash feeder pig prices at United Tel-O-Auction were steady to lower compared to two weeks earlier. The United prices by weight groups were: 50-60 pounds $127-$137 per cwt. and 60-70 pounds $116-$117.50 per cwt.

Slaughter reached that 2 million head mark again this week, the second week in a row, another high water mark for slaughter. The Federally Inspected slaughter was estimated at 2.009 million head, up 3.8 percent from a year earlier.

This farm news was published in the March 22, 2006 issue of Farm World.