Hog slaughter may rise slightly in 2003, based on increases in the June-November 2002 pig crop and higher than expected sow slaughter, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service.

Projected higher feed costs will reduce sow farrowings by about 1% next year, says USDA, the result of depressed prices compounded by growing areas of drought pushing feed costs higher.

Pigs per litter are expected to increase slightly. The pig crop in 2003 is projected to be down about 1%.

Average dressed weights will be lower next year, from higher costs of gain, resulting in 2003 commercial pork production climbing less than 1% over 2002 levels, says USDA.