Pig virus shrinks U.S. hog herd more than expected in March-May

June 27 Fri Jun 27, 2014 4:03pm EDT

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June 27 (Reuters) - The U.S. hog herd shrank more than anticipated in the March-May quarter as a deadly pig virus swept through farms, a U.S. Department of Agriculture report showed on Friday.

The data also showed that despite higher hog prices in the wake of the deadly Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, producers had not expanded herds as much as expected, analysts said.

They added that Chicago Mercantile Exchange hog futures could climb as much as their 3-cents per lb daily price limit on Monday, based on Friday's report.

The USDA report showed the U.S. hog herd as of June 1 at 95 percent of the year-ago level, at 62.128 million head. Analysts, on average, expected 63.200 million head, or 97.1 percent of the year-earlier herd. The U.S. hog herd for the same period last year was 65.188 million head.

The U.S. breeding herd was 100.0 percent of the year ago level, at 5.855 million head, compared with average trade expectations for 101.8 percent, or 5.990 million. A year ago the breeding herd was 5.884 million head.

The June 1 supply of market-ready hogs for sale to packers was 95 percent of a year earlier at 56.273 million head. Analysts, on average, expected a 3.2 percent decline, or 57.310 million. Last spring's market hog supply was 59.304 million head.

The data showed pigs per litter during the period at 9.78 head, or 95.0 percent of the 10.31 in the year-ago period. Analysts expected an average 9.8 head. (Reporting by Theopolis Waters; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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