This week I was with 2 different clients who were in the weaned pig market. Both were looking to sell excess pigs from sow units in which they are invested. Both reported the best bid they could get from several brokers was $32/pig. Several reasons were given from the sharp drop in the spot price for weaned pigs in the past 2 months. These include pricing formulas are now based on the October and December lean hog contract on the Chicago Board, uncertainties about how feed grain prices and an apparent abundance of weaned pigs available.
Average spot market weaned pig prices (as reported by USDA) for January, February and March were $59 (high of $67), $59.74 (high of $71), and $45.42 (high of $61 first week of March), respectively. The change from the $71/pig high in February to the $32 bid this week is $39/pig which is quite a shock to those trying to sell weaned pigs. The winter high prices reflected both pigs that would be sold in the summer market and an apparent shortage of pigs due to PRRS.
While there have been quite a few rumors and stories about the severity of PRRS this past winter in the upper Midwest, based on the above information it appears that many of the sow units that had pig flow issues a few months ago due to PRRS have stabilized and reproductive performance is returning to normal.
The recently released April 1 Canadian hog inventory numbers, when combined with the March 1 US numbers from USDA show a 1% increase in the kept for market numbers versus 1 year ago. However, when broken down by weight class, all classes of pigs over 50 pounds were at 100%, while the under 50 pound class was up 2% from 1 year ago. This inventory increase in the small pig category agrees with the spot market pricing for this category of pigs.
Pigs born today will be sold in the October market, with the tail ender pigs going to slaughter in early November. All of this suggests that we will have plenty of pigs to slaughter in the late summer and fall markets.