For the first time in 2.5 years, the national swine breeding herd experienced a year-over-year increase, according to the latest USDA Hogs & Pigs Report. The U.S. swine breeding herd is up .5% from last year, contrary to pre-report predictions of a decline of .3%. A significant move in the report is considered anything plus or minus one percentage point.

An increase in sow slaughter, high feed costs, uncertainty with the Prop 12 legislation out of California and ongoing questions surrounding demand were reasons analysts predicted a decline. However, producers evidently are less worried about feed and demand than last year, allowing them to retain more gilts. Next up, eyes are on the December-February farrowing intention estimate, which, according to Iowa State University’s Lee Schulz, “jibes pretty well” with the estimated breeding herd size.

Read more on U.S. hog and pig breeding herd sizes here.