U.S. hog producers' September–November farrowing intentions have been lowered to 2.85 million, almost 2.7 percent lower than in 2011, and the December–February 2013 farrowing intentions are estimated at 2.821 million, 1.5 percent lower than in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest report. Both of these revisions reflect the intention of hog farmers to slightly scale back production.
This reduction in farrowings and breeding stock reflects what most observers have identified already: the effects of the summer 2012 drought on the U.S. feed crop have led to farmers’ intentions to reduce hog production in 2013 and thus to require fewer farrowings. While 2013 feeding margins have recovered somewhat since September, margins still remain narrow relative to expectations earlier in 2012, according to the USDA. Hog farmers have thus decided to farrow fewer sows in 2013 than in 2012.
While the number of pigs per litter is expected to continue to grow in 2013, the reduction in farrowings will more than offset the efficiency gains in sow litters, and the 2013 pig crop is expected to be lower than the 2012 pig crop. Commercial pork production is expected to be almost 23 billion pounds, which is still 1.3 percent below the annual production level in 2012. This increase is expected despite downward revisions of live hog imports in 2013.