Market News & Headlines >> U.S. Hog Herd Tops Expectations; Farrowing Intentions Lower

Last Thursday’s quarterly USDA Hogs and Pigs report showed a larger-than-expected June 1 hog herd, but also indicated herd expansion producers may be slowing herd expansion. 

USDA pegged all hogs and pigs as of June 1 at 75.52 million head or 103.6% of a year earlier matching the high end of trade estimates that averaged that averaged 102.6%, according to a Bloomberg News survey of nine analysts. 

The U.S. breeding herd was pegged at 6.410 million head or 101.4% of a year earlier, compared with trade estimates that averaged 101.6% in a range from 100.6%-102.3%. 

The June 1 marketing hog inventory was estimated by USDA at 69.11 million head or 103.9% of a year earlier, topping trade estimates that averaged 102.7% in a range from 102.0%-103.7%. 

Due to strong breeding efficiency, USDA’s March-May pig crop estimate at 33.43 million head or 103.7% of a year earlier was well above trade estimates that averaged 101.9% of a year earlier in a range from 100.8%-102.5%. The number of pigs per litter came in at 103.5% of a year earlier, easily topping all trade estimates. 

Meanwhile farrowing intentions reported by USDA suggest producers intend to dial back on expansion during the second half of 2019. June-August farrowing intentions of 99.5% of a year earlier were below all trade estimates, as were September-November intentions of 100% of a year earlier.

The large market hog inventory indicates hog supplies will remain ample this summer and fall, but the market should have worked its way through supplies of hogs weighing over 180 pounds as of June 1, which were exceptionally large at 107.5% of a year earlier.