I’ve been asked by many people the past few weeks for my thoughts on pig numbers going to slaughter in the coming weeks. All of this is in light of the December 1 pig crop report which suggested declining numbers in slaughter weight pigs beginning sometime in late January to early February.
As readers are aware, runs have remained very large, and in some analyst’s opinion, too large to match with the pig crop inventory reported. On the other hand, if pigs were being pulled forward (for whatever reason), the slaughter numbers made sense.
I track the prior day barrow and gilt slaughter numbers (USDA report LM_HG201). For the first 4 full weeks of this year, the weighted average carcass weight of all barrows and gilts declined every week, and the decline appeared to me to be larger than the historic decline that occurs every year as the market catches up from the holiday disruptions.
For the weeks ending January 8/9, 15/16, 22/23, 29/30, Feb 5/6, 12/13 and 19/20, the weekly weighted average carcass weight for all barrows and gilts was 215.7, 214.7, 213.8, 213.4, 212.8, 213.0 and 213.0 pounds respectively. The plateau in carcass weights for the past 3 weeks suggests producers are not pulling pigs ahead any longer (if they were at all). We also appear to be current in sales following the market disruptions due to winter weather the week of February 1.
The really good news, the weighted average net price ($/head) went from $121.33 the week ending January 8/9 to $142.89 the week ending February 19/20 a gain of $21.56 per pig in only 6 weeks.
Mike, I agree as we have visited with packing representatives at recent events, they all tell us the same thing, they are looking for pigs. We have also seen bold moves from some in getting a stronger contract commitment for future supplies.