Slaughter weights for producer sold barrows and gilts

This week the USDA reported Iowa/Southern Minnesota barrow and gilt live weight for last week declined 0.9 lb to 280.9 lb. This was after 3 weeks of only modest weight gains per week. Looking at this data many are asking – how aggressive have producers been at pulling pigs ahead in light of the massive slaughter runs occurring this fall?

I went back and looked at producer sold versus packer owned carcass weights as reported in the USDA prior day slaughter report (LM_HG201) to try and tease some information out. When I plot daily carcass weights for these 2 categories of barrows and gilts from September 1 through Thursday of this week, it becomes clear that packer owned pigs have been increasing in weight faster than producer sold pigs, even before the hurricane disrupted slaughter in North Carolina at the Smithfield plants (mostly packer owned pigs).

Since September 1, producer sold carcass weights have increased an average of 0.04 lb/d while packer owned carcass weights have increased 0.13 lb/d.

Yes, some of the recent increase is because of the impact of Hurricane Matthew. However, if I only look at September, the difference in behavior is already evident. In September producer owned pigs increased carcass weights an average of 0.08 lb/day while packer owned carcass weights increased 0.17 lb/d. In October, the rate of increase was 0.06 lb/d for producer sold pigs and 0.14 lb/d for packer owned pigs.

Both the Iowa/Southern Minnesota live weight data and the producer sold carcass weight data support the idea that producers who do not own slaughter facilities have been aggressive in managing slaughter weights in the face of falling prices, with this behavior starting in early September.

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