October 27, 2008
US federally inspected hog slaughter last week dipped below the year-earlier figure for the first time since May 2007.
The US Department of Agriculture estimated the week's total at 2.296 million head, compared with 2.314 million a year ago.
Market analysts said the decline in slaughter was likely the result of multiple factors. These include reduced imports of feeder pigs and slaughter hogs from Canada over the past few months, modest liquidation of breeding animals by some producers last winter and spring and possible pulling ahead of supplies in recent weeks.
The USDA early Friday reported hog slaughter for September was up 14 percent from a year ago. September had two more weekdays and one less Saturday this year than in 2007. Pork production for the month was up 13 percent from a year ago. Hog carcass weights were slightly lighter at 199 pounds, compared with 200 pounds a year ago.
Glenn Grimes, agricultural economist at the University of Missouri, said hog weights in Iowa/southern Minnesota since late summer have been down more from a year ago than has the national average. The data suggest that Midwest producers have been more current on marketings than have the operations in other areas of the country.
The difference could be based on who owns the hogs or makes the decision on when the animals are to be sent to slaughter, analysts and dealers said. For example, private producers may sell their hogs at lighter weights when feed costs are high. Hogs that are owned by a packer might be fed longer because the packer is also concerned about controlling processing costs on a per pound basis and might need the heavier animals for uniformly sized boneless cuts.
Wholesale pork prices rebounded slightly last week, gaining US$0.95 or 1.5 percent from a week ago. Boxed beef prices were lower again in both grades, with choice down US$2.97 and select off US$2.45 for the week.
Last week's cattle slaughter was estimated at 647,000 head, compared with 632,000 a week ago and 673,000 a year ago. Year-to-date cattle slaughter is up 0.5 percent from a year ago.
The year-to-date hog slaughter is up 7.6 percent.
The USDA estimated total beef, pork and lamb production for the week at 976.4 million pounds. The previous week's output was 974.9 million pounds, and the year-ago figure was 1.003 billion pounds. Year-to-date combined meat output is up 3.8 percent.
Broiler/fryer slaughter last week was estimated at 163.802 million head, compared with 161.915 million a week ago and 167.574 million a year ago.