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More Sows to Market, But Not a Sign of Liquidation

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Producers are bringing a few more sows to market than a year ago “but we would not conclude this is a sign of hog producers starting to reduce the production base,” said Len Steiner, reporting for the Daily Livestock Report, sponsored by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

“Rather, the increase in the number of sows going to slaughter simply reflects the effect of a larger breeding inventory: More breeding stock, more cull animals available,” he said.

Sow slaughter for the week ending February 25 (two week lag in reporting) was 57,478 head, 2.4% less than a year ago, Steiner reported.

In the last four weeks, sow slaughter has averaged 58,392 head/wk, 4% higher than a year ago. The hog breeding herd as of December 1 was almost 6.1 million head, 1.5% higher than a year ago and 2.5% higher than in December 2014.

“The ratio of sow slaughter during the quarter to the breeding inventory at the start of the quarter still does not indicate to us that hog producers are looking to contract,” Steiner said. “For the three months of December, January and February, we estimate sow and boar slaughter at around 809,000 head, calculating a 13.3% ratio to the 6.1 million head inventory on December 1. This ratio compares with the average 13.9% for all the quarters since 2010,” Steiner noted. “During periods of liquidation, the ratio tends to climb over 15%.

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