“The North American swine breeding herd is declining and we will have less pork produced in the future, but the process is slow,” remarks John Lawrence, Iowa State University Extension livestock economist.

He says adjustments to carcass weights and the number of hogs slaughtered will impact supplies much faster than breeding fewer sows.

“There are problems that can be caused by the options discussed. Most notably, earlier marketings increases pork supplies in the short run and further taxes processing capacity and hog prices.

“However, the later reduced supply should improve prices and allow more producers to hold on until the smaller pig crops reach market weight,” he says.

To achieve these goals, packers must remove the current incentive for heavy carcasses, which will increase marketings and pork on the market in the near term.

Finishers must respond by shipping hogs lighter when they get the economic signal. Shipping lighter improves efficiency and gains, according to Lawrence.

Nurseries and finishers need to cull pigs sooner to reduce costs, improve throughput and remove some supply from the market.

“If 5% are culls that are 25% lighter than the average (200 lb. vs. 265 lb.), then eliminating them reduces supply 1.2%,” Lawrence says.