10 May 1996

Breeding sows on the decline

PIG producers will be encouraged by latest EU census data.

It shows breeding sow numbers to have fallen by over 1% across the EU 15 in the year to December. In the UK, the reduction was nearly 3%.

Italy, France, Spain, Germany and Denmark also saw decreases in their herds. The overall effect is likely to be a decline in EU slaughterings of 1.6% during 1996 compared to the last year.

Despite some seasonal weakening during the summer, prices are likely to stay well ahead of last year, says Meat and Livestock Commission economic policy manager Mick Sloyan.

But expansion is being discouraged by the prospect of high feed prices. "The futures market is telling us that grain prices will remain firm," says Mr Sloyan.

But the data also reveals signs of an upturn in production in some countries, adds Mr Sloyan. Denmark, for example, recorded a 10.3% rise in the number of maiden gilts. &#42