Friday’s hogs and pigs report is expected to show a decline in US hog numbers, primarily because of the disease PEDv which has moved rapidly and with devastating consequences across the country this winter. Estimates are that hog numbers could be down as much as 6% due to losses caused by the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea. Rabobank released a report this week that forecast US pork production would fall 7% in 2014 with the biggest decline coming this fall, “The tightest period for hog supply is projected to come during the August-to-October period when slaughter could decline by 15 to 25 percent from 2013 levels.”
Indiana State Veterinarian Dr. Bret Marsh says, like it has through most of the US, the disease has moved quickly across the state, “We have 43 counties that have reported cases of PED.” Marsh had hoped the extremely cold winter weather would have slowed the spread of the virus, but instead it had just the opposite effect, “The virus likes these cool periods of time and has moved very rapidly through our Indiana swine herd and likewise across the country.” He did note that, in the past few weeks, the spread of the virus seems to be slowing. The Rabobank report noted hog herds in 27 U.S. states, four Canadian provinces, and 13 Mexican states have been infected with PED.
Marsh says that biosecurity is still the best way to prevent the infection and that livestock shows and county fairs have been advised on precautions which need to be taken to protect participating livestock. He told HAT there has been promising research on the disease, “And we now have some tools we did not have a year ago. Purdue can now test for the presence of PED in a herd.” The disease is less than a year old and there is still a lot that is not known, including how it got into the US. Marsh is optimistic, however, that progress is being made and hopes a cure will be found soon, “There is ongoing research to try and determine how the virus is being moved, and hopefully we will end up with the vaccines.”
Consumers may soon feel the impact of PED as pork and bacon prices are forecast to go up this summer. Rabobank is also forecasting an 11 percent, or 12.5 million head, decline of market-ready hogs in 2014. The US chicken industry is poised to gain from the losses in the pork industry and declining U.S. beef production by becoming the “protein of last resort,” Rabobank analysts said.