THE SIZE of the UK pig herd has fallen by almost 40% over the past 25 years, but there are signs that pig numbers are edging back up.

The Meat and Livestock Commission has forecast a 3% increase in finished pig slaughterings next year if the slowly improving productivity of the National herd is maintained.

Carcass weights are also rising, although the GB average carcass weight of 76.1kg is still well behind the European average of 87.2kg.

The National Pig Association has welcomed news of a rise in UK production levels and says that imports should fall as a result.

But although European pig meat prices are riding high, the mainland average of 94p/kg compares well with the GB Euro Deadweight Adjusted Pig Price (DAPP) for supplies in the week commencing Nov 8 of 100.3p/kg.

The British Pig Executive‘s Barriers to Investment survey suggests that over 30% of producers are losing money or just breaking even at these levels.

Survey results indicate that 36% of producers have costs of 101-110p/kg, 20% have 96-100p/kg, 28% have 91-95p/kg and only 16% have costs of less than 90p/kg.

The NPA are concerned that unless there is a significant period of price stability above break even levels more producers will leave the industry. 

According to MLC statistics, the number of holdings with breeding sows has fallen by 18,600 since 1980, reducing the national herd from 823,000 to 522,000 at the end of 2003.