WASHINGTON, March 27, 2015 - The U.S. hog and pig inventory totaled 65.9 million head as of March 1, up 7.2 percent from a year earlier when the nation’s herd was being devastated by the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv). The March 1 figure was down slightly from Dec. 1, 2014, USDA said today in a quarterly report.

Chris Hurt, a professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University, pointed to the average pigs-per-litter figure for the three-month period ending Feb. 28 – a record 10.17, up almost 7 percent from a year ago -- as being particularly telling.

“This is very encouraging, from a production standpoint,” Hurt said during a conference call arranged by the National Pork Board to review the numbers. “Things are pretty close to our expectations as to where we would have been if there had been no impact from PEDv,” he said.

PEDv was discovered in U.S. herds in the spring of 2013 and has since spread to more than 30 states, including Hawaii. The disease killed millions of animals, mostly piglets who are especially vulnerable to the gastric distress and dehydration caused by the virus.

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Hurt credited the pork industry for “taking on this difficult disease” and reducing its impact over the past year and a half. Experts point to improved sanitary measures taken by producers for slowing the spread of the virus. The increased inventory also reflects a sow herd that has gained some immunity from the disease.

Today's report also showed:

--The March 1 breeding hog inventory totaled 5.98 million head, up 2 percent from a year earlier and up 1 percent from the start of the previous quarter.

--Market hogs totaled 60 million head as of March 1, up 8 percent from March 1, 2014, but down slightly from last quarter.

--The pig crop for the December-February period was 28.8 million head, up 9 percent from the same period a year ago.

--Sows farrowing during the December-February period totaled 2.83 million head, up 2 percent from the year-earlier quarter. The figure represented 48 percent of the breeding herd.



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