Today Steve Meyer and Len Steiner shared some sobering news in the Daily Livestock Report about the impact porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) is having on the packing industry. In their article, the authors noted that last week’s hog slaughter was 5.7% lower than one year ago, and estimated slaughter through Thursday of this week was expected to be 2.7% lower than one year ago, pending what happens as of today and tomorrow.

Meyer and Steiner say Saturday packing plant shifts tend to be the first casualties of low hog numbers. They note, “Last Saturday’s run was 52,000 head compared to 65,800 head for the same week in 2013. That 13,800-difference accounted for nearly 11% of the 126,316 head year-on-year decline, underscoring the importance of Saturday throughput for these weekly totals.”

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The article goes on to say that last fall Seaboard Foods eliminated Saturday operations at its Guymon, OK, plant in response to PEDV losses incurred in May and June at its farms in the Oklahoma and Texas Panhandles and southwest Kansas. They also report that sources are indicating that Smithfield may begin idling one of their North Carolina plants one day each week as PEDV losses that began last fall in that state begin to impact slaughter numbers.

“We suspect that similar strategies will be applied by operators of Midwestern plants come April and May when pigs from the weeks when Midwestern PEDV cases surged last fall finally reach market weight,” Meyer and Steiner say.

They go on to say they do not expect any plants to close, even for a short period of time. On an optimistic note, the authors say the pork industry’s efforts to implement industry-wide biosecurity efforts, and collaborations behind research, education and vaccine-development to combat the disease will add up to a solution in a “reasonable amount of time.”

The Daily Livestock Report newsletter is available online at http://www.dailylivestockreport.com/. Meyer provides a weekly analysis of the factors impacting the U.S. pork industry in the National Hog Farmer Weekly Preview newsletter each Monday. 

Meyer's most recent articles include:

High Hog Prices Come with Complicated Consequences and a Positive Export Picture

Large Reductions Estimated in Hog Supply Due to PEDV