There were nearly 12.0 million head of cattle on feed as of Apr. 1, up 2 percent year over year and a recent record. March’s cold, wet weather in parts of the Plains and Midwest contributed to the higher number. May-Aug numbers should decline seasonally, with YOY gains in cattle on feed perhaps around the 1 percent mark we saw in January and February.

The U.S. hog population continues to expand at around 2 percent over 2018. As of Mar. 1, the U.S. had 74.3 million head of hogs and pigs, up 2 percent from Q1 2018 and up 5 percent from Q1 2017. U.S. pork exports rose 4 percent in 2018, the third year of annual growth. USDA is anticipating pork exports in 2019 will be 5 percent higher than in 2018, thanks to very strong global demand during the second half of the year.

Quarterly hog population vs. pork exports

Source: USDA, McKeany-Flavell estimates for 2019
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