Clean pig throughputs were 2% higher than year earlier levels during Q4 2017, totalling 2.7 million head. This increase in throughputs was slightly larger than anticipated in the October forecast, with an extra 27,000 head killed during the period.
Additional slaughterings suggest that productivity and/or sow numbers have been higher than previously expected. As such, there was a potentially a modestly larger herd with better performance than expected during the quarter, and so it’s possible that the forecast for 2018 may continue to be a little understated. However, a downside risk to the slaughterings forecast in Q2 comes from some reports that seasonal infertility was a particular problem last year. As such, there is a risk second quarter slaughterings might actually fall below the forecast.
Despite slaughterings being higher than expected in Q4, pig meat production was more in line with expectations at 238,800 tonnes. This is because carcase weights were slightly lower than expected during the quarter, averaging 83.9kg. However, with finishing weights generally trending higher, reflecting genetic improvements and an increasing drive to finish at heavier weights, it is unlikely lower carcase weights will continue to counteract higher throughputs.