The U.S. inventory of all hogs and pigs on June 1, 2011 - reported Friday - was 65 million head. This is a 1% rise from June 1, 2010 and a 2% boost from March 1, 2011.
Breaking down then numbers, the breeding inventory, a 5.8 million head, is up slightly from last year, and up slightly from the previous quarter - according to USDA's report. Market hog inventory, at 59.2 million head, was up 1% from last year and 2% from last quarter.
Interestingly, the March-May 2011 pig crop is at 28.9 million head, which is up slightly from 2010 but down 1% from 2009. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 2.88 million head, down 2% from 2010 and down 5% from 2009. The sows farrowed during this quarter represent 50% of the breeding herd. Average pigs saved per litters was at a record high 10.03 for March-May 2011, compared to 9/81 last year. Pigs saved per litter by size of operation ranged from 7.5 for operations with 1 to 99 hogs to 10.10 for operations with more than 5,000 hogs and pigs.
For the latest survey, U.S. hog producers say they intend to have 2.87 million sows farrow during the June-August 2011 quarter, down 3% from 2009. Intended farrowings for September-November 2011, a 2.85 million sows, are down 1% from 2010 and down 2 percent from 2009.
It appears the hog industry is doing a solid job of managing inventories to keep pressuring prices higher. Given the uncertain profit outlook for the swine industry, continued restraint appears to be keeping producer from expanding.
While the uptick in the overall herd shows potential herd expansion, numbers remain below the peak reached in late 2007. This voluntary supply management approach may help the overall supply picture, however traders in early overnight action leading to Monday showed some reluctance to buy, sending prices down some. Whether this will reverse itself when the market opens remains to be see.