By Bruce Cochrane
The president of the National Pork Producers Council says, despite reduced hog numbers resulting from Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea, there will be ample supplies of pork this summer.
Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea, a viral infection first identified in the U.S. just over one year ago, has spread throughout the U.S. swine herd and will be among the key issues discussed this week as part of World Pork Expo in Des Moines.
National Pork Producers Council president Dr. Howard Hill says unfortunately the virus has spread very rapidly but that doesn't mean there will be a shortage of pork.
Dr. Howard Hill-National Pork Producers Council:
We know some of the ways that it was spread, lateral transmission from one farm to the other.
There may be a feed issue.
The Canadians have shown it and we've had some cases where it's been shown to be in feed and producers are learning how to control that with how the feed is manufactured and what ingredients they're using and that sort of thing.
As far as how widespread, we have pretty good evidence that there's about two and a half million sows that have been affected and, with two and a half million pigs, each sow is estimated to lose about 2.7 pigs if she has the infection so you multiply that together and you come up with about seven million pigs that are lost.
But that doesn't mean that we're going to be short that much pork because a couple of things have happened.
One is PRRS was very very mild this last winter and that may be because we had some herds shut down.
We weren't introducing animals because of PED.
The other thing producers have done to compensate for the loss of pigs is they've increased the weights.
If a pork producer was selling at say 270 to 275 now they're selling at 280 to 285 so we've picked up a lot of weight there so it's not going to be a tremendous shortage of pork.
Dr. Hill acknowledges PED has affected the market to some extent.
He notes we've seen record prices and record cutout values so far this spring.