9 June 1995

Firm cull sows likely prospect

CULL sow prices should stay firm this year, as a result of the weak £ and lower pigmeat supplies.

So says the MLC, which calculates that prices, averaging 69p/kg lw during the first quarter of 1995, were 40% above those of a year earlier. (Slaughterings in the same period were only 0.5% lower.)

Prices during April – although back slightly from their March peak – were still well above corresponding weeks during 1994. And since then, auctioneers report "stability" in values.

"The trade has hardly altered over the last month," says auctioneer Norman Bagley at Ripon, North Yorks. Last week, he saw cull sows average £160. "Numbers, however, have shortened," he says.

Similarly, Peter Crichton, has noticed a slight decline in numbers. "In the past, there have usually been at least two or three dispersal sales on the horizon. But there are fewer now."

On Monday at Wickham, Mr Crichton saw bidding peak at £203 a head.

"The general demand for pigmeat, and the weakness of sterling is supporting the trade," he says.

British pigmeat exports to other EU member states so far this year – of which over half is accounted for by sow meat – are 17% higher than 12 months ago, says the MLC.

Low availability of beef for processing has also increased manufacturers demand for pigmeat – and so helped support sow values.

The slaughter decline expected this year is an early indicator of herd expansion, as producers retain sows for breeding. But, says the MLC, any such expansion is likely to be "cautious".


Sow auction mart price

(England & Wales)

May 94May 95

£/head121.88159.26

p/kg lw56.3772.31