Hog farms across Missouri have been struck by a fast-spreading virus that can kill 80 percent of piglets that contract it. In some cases, entire nurseries containing thousands of piglets have been wiped out overnight. A swine nutrition specialist with the University of Missouri said there has been “an explosion” of the disease since the first two weeks of February, and that it’s widespread now, particularly north of Interstate 70.
About 3,000 farms in Missouri have pigs on them, she said. Any size farm is susceptible to porcine epidemic diarrhea, not just industrial hog farms. Nationwide, 4 million to 5 million pigs have been lost. That represents about 4 percent of the pigs that would go to market later this year. The United States, on average, slaughters about 113 million pigs annually. Market watchers are forecasting a jump in cash hog prices later this year.