WASHINGTON – The latest figures from the US Department of Agriculture show the US hog herd didn’t shrink as much as analysts had forecasted.

The US inventory of all hogs and pigs on March 1, 2014, was 62.9 million head, down 3 percent from the year ago period and down 5 percent from Dec. 1, 2013, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. News reports put analysts’ expectations at 61.5 million head. The federal data suggest that the hog herd was not as hard-hit by Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) during the December-February period as originally feared.

The December 2013-February 2014 pig crop declined 3 percent from 2013 at 27.3 million head. Sows farrowing during the period increased 3 percent to 2.87 million. The average pigs saved per litter was 9.53 for the December-February period, compared to 10.08 a year ago, NASS reported. Pigs saved per litter by size of operation ranged from 7.70 for operations with 1-99 hogs and pigs to 9.60 for operations with more than 5,000 hogs and pigs.

NASS reported the breeding inventory was 5.85 million head, up slightly from a year ago, and up 2 percent from the previous quarter.

The inventory of market-ready hogs totaled 57.0 million head, down 4 percent from last year and down 5 percent from last quarter.