WASHINGTON – The US inventory of all hogs and pigs on Dec. 1, 2012 was 66.3 million head, down slightly from the comparable year-ago period, and down 2 percent from Sept. 1, 2012, according to the US Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Breeding inventory gained slightly to reach 5.82 million head, according to NASS. The total also was up slightly from the previous quarter. Market hog inventory, at 60.5 million head, declined slightly from 2011, and eased 2 percent from last quarter.

The September-November 2012 pig crop, at 29.4 million head, was up slightly compared to 2011, NASS said. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 2.90 million head, down 1 percent from 2011. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 50 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter reached a record high of 10.15 for the September-November period, compared to 10.02 in 2011, NASS said. Pigs saved per litter by size of operation ranged from 7.60 for operations with 1-99 hogs and pigs to 10.20 for operations with more than 5,000 hogs and pigs.

US hog producers intend to have 2.86 million sows farrow during the December 2012-February 2013 quarter, up slightly from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2012, and up 1 percent from 2011. Intended farrowings for March-May 2013, at 2.93 million sows, declined 2 percent from 2012, but gained slightly compared to 2011.

The total number of hogs under contract owned by operations with more than 5,000 head, but raised by contractees, accounted for 47 percent of the total US hog inventory, up from 45 percent in 2011.