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Hog Weights Steady with Year Ago
Created on Nov 01, 2018

As North American packer capacity enters a period of expansion, one possibility is that ever-increasing carcass weights could multiply the impact of increased production. However, carcass weights in both Ontario and the U.S. have stabilized in recent years. 

Carcass weights have increased steadily in both Ontario and the U.S. over the last decade. There was a significant jump in carcass weights in 2014 as prices skyrocketed and animals were held back to capture rising prices during the year PED hit. Since 2015 carcass weights have increased by only 0.28 kg per year in Ontario and have decreased slightly in the U.S. (on average 0.2 lbs per year).

Looking at seasonal temperature trends, Ontario hog carcass weights vary by about 4-5 kg between the winter and summer months with the lighter shipping weights following the heat of the summer. With 2018 being the fourth hottest summer on record in the U.S. and temperatures in Ontario from May through September averaging two degrees warmer than the 20 year average, slower growth throughout the summer may mean that more animals will reach market weight in November and December.

This fall much of Southwestern Ontario’s corn tested showing higher levels (greater than two parts per million) of Vomitoxin. In many cases, doing an early harvest in order to prevent further fungi growth was hampered by wet weather. Vomitoxin in hog feed affects gastrointestinal health and causes lowered daily gain, poor feed conversion ratios and reduced carcass weight in finishing pigs. Increased drying costs and the demand for toxin-free feed is likely to drive feed prices up over the next few months.

Higher temperatures and a decrease in feed quality may help maintain the recent plateau of hog weights. If hog weights remain steady with previous years, then expected increases in pork supply should moderate and continue to support wholesale pork prices.

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