Sow population does not decrease further

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Pigs at a farm in the U.S. state of Kansas. (Archive image)
picture alliance / AP Images | Charlie Riedel
Pigs at a farm in the U.S. state of Kansas. (Archive image)

Pig stocks in the USA have been shrinking for a year. At the end of 2021, there are first signs of stabilization.

In the USA, the pig population fell again at the end of last year, but not in the case of sows. According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a total of 74.20 million hogs were held as of December 1, 2021; this was 3.11 million head or 4.0% less than twelve months earlier. In addition, the department revised the inventory figures of several previous quarters back to December 2019, in some cases significantly downward.

In the current survey, the category of fattening pigs weighing 54 kg or more showed the strongest rate of decline in a year-on-year comparison, falling by a good 6% to 27.66 million head. The number of piglets housed compared to December 2020 decreased by 3.7% to 21.17 million; for runners up to 54 kg, a minus of 2.5% to 19.19 million head was reported.

On the other hand, the situation was different for breeding sows, whose population remained stable at 6.18 million head compared to the previous year's survey. This indicates that the decline in numbers, which has been ongoing for around a year, could come to an end in 2022. The expected number of sows farrowing from December 2021 to May 2022 is also roughly on a par with the previous year at 5.95 million animals. Another factor in favor of a stabilization of the herd is that, from the second half of 2021, the number of piglets reared per litter was again slightly above the previous year's level. At an average of 11.16 animals, this figure in the period from June to November exceeded the corresponding level in the prior-year period of 2020 by around 1%.

However, in the year just ended, U.S. hog production declined for the first time in a while. From January through November 2021, slaughter volume declined by 2.17 million head, or 1.8%, to 117.9 million head, compared with the same period in 2020; pork production at commercial slaughter plants decreased by 2.0% to 11.46 million tons. AgE