One Animal Unit (AU) is equal to 1,000 pounds. Each animal has an animal unit measurement designated based on the average weight of that animal. For example, a cow raised for beef is designated by the USDA as being, on average, 1,200 pounds and is 1.2 AUs, hogs can have a wide range of weights depending on their stage of life, therefore, the AU used for all stages except nursery size pigs is 0.4 AUs. These measurements are calculated to make the data comparable across species and locations, and allow for time series trend analysis. (Additionally, to understand more about the way animal units are calculated for capacity purposes in Iowa see the DNR’s website here.)

 What this means is that the 15.9 million hog AUs translates to an average of 39.6 million hogs in the Midwest.

A strong motivator for farmers to raise animals in the Midwest is that feed sources are nearby, additionally, the growth of the animal sector drives demand for feed. In the Midwest, Iowa houses the most hog animal units over the course of a year than any other state, in the U.S. or Midwest. In the chart below the share of production between the states in the study area has remained relatively steady.

There has been a steady upward trend in hog animal units since 2005, in fact, between 2005 and 2016 there has been a 63% increase in hog AUs in Iowa. Iowa produces nearly a third of hogs in the U.S. 

This completes the series of animal unit reports. Previous reports can be found here:

·         Beef

·         Laying hens

·         Turkeys

·         Dairy Cows

·         Broilers

Preston Lyman is a Research Analyst with Decision Innovation Solutions (DIS). DIS is an Iowa-Based economic research firm which provides regular farm economics research and analysis to the Iowa Farm Bureau staff and members.