Swine harvesting reports from the most recent five-week period show that the average harvest weight of a packer-owned hog has risen from 217 to 219 pounds. This is about a 4 percent increase from a year ago. This increase in average harvest weight has lifted pork production numbers to about .8 percent higher than last year.
One factor that contributes to the increase in the average harvesting weight is the lower number of hogs available for slaughter as a result of the PEDv that has spread throughout the United States. As the number of hogs available for harvest becomes lower, it makes sense that a packer would increase the pound per head to help supply customers with the pork demand.
Even though recent data from the National Animal Health Laboratory Network shows a slight drop in new cases of PEDv positive hogs, this should not be taken as a sign that the virus is under control. Nebraska recently reported its first cases of PEDv positive pigs with more spreading in Iowa and Minnesota as well. Many feel that the spread of PEDv through the entire US herd is inevitable and the big question is whether the subsequent immunity levels will prevent further losses.
Packers and producers will continue to adjust production and processing practices to weather this perilous swine health issue.
(Editor’s Note: Max Knowles is an Agriculture Extension Agent with the Sampson County Cooperative Extension Service.)