PORK† &† CHICKEN† PRODUCTION
††††† Projections for both pork and poultry production during the first quarter of 2014 are generally well below those made a few months ago. Pork production is below expectations because disease, specifically Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv), has trimmed market hog numbers. Chicken producers are expanding, but are faced with some economic headwinds: 1) higher than anticipated soybean meal costs; and 2) softer than anticipated demand for products sold in overseas markets and domestically.
††††† USDA-NASS recently released detailed monthly reports on livestock and poultry slaughter in January. Monthly data for January are directly comparable to a year ago as there were the same number of workdays in 2014 and 2013. For that month, U.S. pork production was up a very modest 1% compared to a year earlier. The year-on-year gain in pork output was caused by heavier slaughter hog weights, as head harvested declined by 2%. Chicken production declined by 3% and head slaughtered dropped by 4%
††††† For the first quarter of 2014, U.S. hog slaughter is projected to be below 2012ís (down less than 1%), but heavier dressed weights should make production up about 2%. A ramp-up in chicken slaughter is projected for balance of the quarter, resulting in slightly more tonnage than last year.