The cost of production for breeding pig herds rose 7% in 2013, with an increasing gap between the bottom and top performing herds.
New figures released in the BPEX Yearbook 2013 show the average cost of production increased by about 12p/kg, with the cost for indoor herds increasing from 157.79p/kg in 2012 to 169.79p/kg in 2013 and rising from 161.22p/kg in 2012 for outdoor pigs to 173.29p/kg in 2013.
The gap between the top third and bottom third performing farms widened in terms of cost of production to 15.66p/kg for outdoor herds – up from 11.72p/kg in 2012. Indoor herds also experienced a widening gap, but only marginally from 13.18p/kg in 2012 to 13.67p/kg in 2013.
The cost of feed (see graph), replacement gilts and artificial insemination all contributed to rising costs, said Steve Wingfield, team lead on knowledge transfer at BPEX. Outdoor herds in particular faced increasing miscellaneous costs, including land rent, insurance premiums and water bills, he said.
The top 10% of herds (based on the number of pigs reared a sow) produced about one more live piglet a litter than the average and five piglets more a sow over a year.
They also used the lowest amount of feed a pig reared (52.96kg compared with an average of 65.78kg), but spent more than the average on sow feed costs (£244.67/t compared with £238.02/t).
Attention to detail and getting the basics, such as feed regimes, right often made the difference between the top and bottom performing herds, said Mr Wingfield. Farms that were struggling also tended to rely heavily on older sows.
A trend seen across the board was an increase in sow mortality from 3.6% in 2012 to 4.6% in 2013.