Market News & Headlines >> U.S. Hog Herd Seen Largest since 2012

USDA is expected to estimate that the U.S. hog herd as of June 1 was nearly 8% larger than a year earlier and the largest since 2012, when it releases its quarterly Hogs and Pigs report on Friday afternoon.

The report is also expected to show continued moderate expansion of the breeding herd and further confirm that breeding efficiency has recovered after last year’s porcine epidemic diarrhea outbreak.

On average, the livestock trade expects USDA to peg all the total June 1 hog herd (all hogs and pigs) 7.8% above a year earlier, with estimates ranging from 6.2%-9% higher according to a survey of 11 livestock analysts by Bloomberg News.  At the trade average, the June 1 hog herd would total 66.392 million head, up from 61.568 million a year earlier.

Trade estimates of the June 1 breeding herd average 2.0% above a year earlier in a range from 1.3%-2.7% higher, while estimates of the supply of hogs kept for marketing average 8.6% above a year earlier in a range from 6.6%-10.8% higher.  At the average of trade estimates, the breeding herd would total 5.974 million head versus 5.855 million a year earlier, while the market hog inventory would total 60.494 million head, up from 55.713 million in 2014.

On average, the March-May pig crop is seen coming in 7.2% above a year earlier on a 2.4% increase in quarterly sow farrowings and a 5.7% increase in the number of pigs pre litter over last year. At that level, pigs per litter would equal 10.33, up from 9.78 in 2014 and 10.31 in 2013, while the March-May pig crop would be 29.477 million head, up from 27.495 million last year.

Trade estimates of June-August farrowing intentions average 0.2% below a year earlier in a range from 2.4% lower to 1.3% higher. In its March 1 inventory report, USDA said producers intended to farrow 2.2% fewer sows during June-August than they did in 2014. Trade expectations for September-November farrowing intentions average 1.1% above a year earlier in a range from 2.6% lower to 3.8% higher.