WASHINGTON – United States inventory of all hogs and pigs was 65.9 million head on March 1, 1 percent higher from a year ago, but down 1 percent from Dec. 1, 2012, according to US Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Breeding inventory was slightly higher compared to 2012 and up slightly from the previous quarter, the agency said. Market hog inventory, at 60.1 million head, increased 2 percent from last year, but declined 1 percent from last quarter.

The December 2012-February 2013 pig crop gained 2 percent to total 29.0 million head. Sows farrowing during this period increased 1 percent to 2.88 million head. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 49 percent of the breeding herd, NASS reported. The average pigs saved per litter reached a record high 10.08 for the December-February period, compared to 9.97 in 2012. Pigs saved per litter by size of operation ranged from 7.50 for operations with 1-99 hogs and pigs to 10.10 for operations with more than 5,000 hogs and pigs, the agency said.

US hog producers are forecasting 2.96 million sows farrowing during the March-May 2013 quarter, down 1 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2012, but up 1 percent from 2011. Intended farrowings for June-August 2013, at 2.91 million sows, declined 1 percent from 2012, and eased 1 percent from 2011.

The total number of hogs under contract owned by operations with over 5,000 head, but raised by contractees, accounted for 47 percent of the total US hog inventory, unchanged from 2012, NASS reported.