Hog producers are charting a clear course to expansion, but what the P.E.D. virus will do this winter is not so clear. Gary Crawford has more.
“It appears that many more pigs will be going to market over this next year than during 2014, according to the latest Agriculture Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report. It shows a clear trend up for everything. The fall quarter pig crop and breeder inventory up 4% from a year ago. Hog up inventory up 2%. The total US inventory of all hogs and pigs at just over 66 million. Other numbers also show a clear decision by producers to increase production-
‘We are seeing that in terms of a 5% increase in the number of animals held for breeding as of December 1. As well as intentions for 4% more sows farrow in Dec-Feb and 3% more in March-May.’
The report also shows that the hog industry seems to be on the mend from the PEDv virus which killed an estimated 8 million piglets. During the fall quarter, the average pigs saved per litter was 10.2, a record for the quarter.
Last winter, in response to strong prices and lower feed costs, producers ramped up farrowings to help make up for those losses to PEDv. These current expansion plans are an economic decision-
‘But we are also to some extent you are attempting to make sure you have sufficient sows on hand if there is a problem with the number of pigs per litter.’
Last winter the mortality for PEDv allowed producers to send much heavier hogs to market, which also partly made up for disease losses. If PEDv is not a huge problem this season-
‘As production increases, the availability of barn space is going to diminish and you will have to move those hogs thru faster. You wont be keeping them as longs, so weights will come off slightly.’
We have heard that once the PEDv virus hits an operation there seems to be more immunity to the virus after that. So are we past the virus?-
‘Its very difficult to say because we are going into the winter months and this virus is one that tends to like cold weather so we will have to wait until March to see what the effects may be on the litter rate.’