5 May 1995

Cull sow trade remains firm

REDUCED availability and strong export demand have helped keep the cull sow trade firm.

And, although having dropped back slightly from their recent peak, prices have been consistently above those of a year ago.

"In March, we saw 77p/kg lw," says auctioneer Nicholas Morgan at Lichfield. "Now, it has eased back to about the 70p/kg mark."

Prices in February and March were 38% and 48% higher than in the same periods one year earlier. The MLC suggests reduced cullings, and higher clean pig prices, have contributed to the firmer prices.

"At the moment we are seeing just natural cullings," comments Mr Morgan. "Last year, there were a lot of sows forward due to herd dispersals."

And the expectation is that the lower cullings will continue. The MLC predicts the years total to be 6% down on 1994.

Sterlings weakness has also bolstered demand for sow meat from overseas. MLC economists put the increase, year on year, since the beginning of 1995, at 14%. They suggest that although exports to Germany have fallen, France has taken more. And, they say, more has been destined for outside the EU, with Poland a likely growing destination.

Reduced cullings combined with favourable exchange rates, leads auctioneers to suggest that cull sow prices will remain buoyant. &#42