The spring planting season is just around the corner. But even before it arrives, many are concerned about harvest. Corn customers, including livestock producers, who collectively form the largest U.S. customer of corn, are concerned about the low carryout numbers for the current crop year. Many are concerned that even with 2010’s near record corn crop, corn availability could become an issue if the 2011 harvest is delayed.
A recent report, however, seemingly indicates that family hog farmers have confidence in the US feed supply and are not concerned enough about feed availability to limit their pig crop.
The March 2011 Quarterly Hogs and Pigs Report released Friday by the USDA indicates that while sow numbers are down, pigs saved per little increased by 2 percent over last year for a record 9.8 pigs per sow.
This increase in productivity more than offset the decreasing number of sows farrowed.
This report also sends a message about hog farmers that is very similar to corn farmers; hog farmers are producing more meat for American consumers with fewer inputs and greater efficiency.
Examining the above graphs together, we can see when sow numbers decreased, litter sizes increased.
For those of you less familiar with animal agriculture, this means that hog farmers are getting more piglets for every pound of feed they provide to the sow. It is also apparent that environmental factors and management changes, for instance, sow housing, are also playing a role. As the sows are healthy and receive ever-improving care over time, they are performing at a higher level.
Hog farmers are gaining efficiencies and getting better and better at what they do.