All summer analysts have talked about more hogs coming. Hog slaughter through August was up just 0.5% for the year. But that's changing. Tuesday Sept. 5 - the day after Labor Day - set a new record at 416,000 head. The old record for biggest daily hog slaughter was 411,088 on Dec. 16, 2004.
"Normally, records come as something of a surprise," says Ron Plain, University of Missouri economist. "Tuesday's record, coming the day after Labor Day, was no surprise."
U.S. daily hog slaughter capacity is up sharply to over 420,000 head. The jump is largely due to the opening of the Triumph Foods plant at St. Joseph, Missouri. Like most large hog slaughter plants, this one is designed to slaughter 1,000 hogs per hour. The plant began operating in January and added a second kill shift last month.
In addition to the Triumph plant, several older plants have added to their slaughter capacity since last year. Premium Standard, Hormel and Indiana Packers have recently hiked, or are in the process of adding, slaughter capacity.
Plain expects Tuesday's record will fall several more times. Fourth quarter hog slaughter in 2005 totaled a record 27.725 million head. The September 1 market hog inventory suggests fourth quarter 2006 slaughter will top 2005's by 0.9%.
As long as that is the case, Steve Meyer, Paragon Economics, Adel, Iowa, believes pork cutout values and carcass prices will also be in good shape.