Pig production costs in Britain are among the highest in the world, according to latest figures from BPEX.

The Cost of Production report, for 2007, found that overall production costs rose by 12% last year, largely due to higher feed costs. By December the average total cost of production had reached 139.6p/kg, 18p/kg higher than the annual average and second only to the cost of producing Italian Parma ham.

But, while British production costs were higher than most other European producers, Brazil, Canada and the US, there were some more positive findings for the GB sector, namely:

  • Post-weaning mortality declined in 2007, from 8% to 7%, and it is now closer to the EU average. Mortality fell in both the rearing and finishing herds
  • The numbers of pigs finished/sow was up from 19.7 to 20.1, the third consecutive year there had been an improvement
  • Average daily liveweight gain for finishing herds increased by 28g to 683g in 2007 – the fourth consecutive annual increase
  • A sharp fall in pre-weaning mortality meant that pigs weaned rose slightly to 21.61. This was 7% below the EU average of 23.26, the same differential as in 2006

Further weakening of sterling against the euro would also help the competitiveness of British pig exports and wipe out almost all of the cost disadvantage British producers were suffering, BPEX chief executive Mick Sloyan said.

“It is encouraging that underlying physical performance is still improving but we do have a long way to go. The value of this report is that it highlights and quantifies in a comprehensive manner where the challenges lie for the English pig sector.”

The report was optimistic that there would be further performance improvements next year, particularly after the distribution of the PCV2 vaccine to English pig producers to help control the wasting disease PMWS. It was hoped this would lead to a reduction in post-weaning mortality and increase in pigs finished per sow.

The Cost of Production report is free to English levypayers. Contact Tony Fowler on 01908 844 281, email tony.fowler@ahdbms.org.uk. For others, the report costs £160.