By Peter Crichton

THE lifting of most of the remaining CSF surveillance areas in the Eastern region has put an estimated 65,000 pigs back into the system.

But this has failed to take the edge off demand in the lead-up to Christmas.

Retailers are reporting strong demand, which has lead to a rise in the level of imports being sucked in to top up an under-supplied home market.

Almost 20% of total Dutch imports is aimed at the UK with about 3000 tonnes per week reaching the domestic market.

This is equivalent to 42,000 UK pigs and fills much of the gap left by falling live pig numbers in this country.

NPA members are pressing for the meat and bonemeal free status of all UK produced pigmeat to be emphasised at point of sale.

However one result of the belated EU MBM ban will be to put pressure on soya prices as compounders throughout much of Europe look for alternative products to fill the gap.

This will have the effect of increasing feed prices in the UK and home mixers are already seeing their year on year costs rise.

Feed traders are advising big feed users to look at locking into fixed price contracts now rather than face the risk of further ration cost increases in the months ahead.

Providing that feed costs can be held close to current levels and demand for finished pigs continues to improve, UK producers are facing better trading prospects as this year draws to a close.

According to the latest Signet figures most producers are now able to produce weaners and finished pigs at a profit.

The cost of producing a 30kg weaner is now within the 27-30 range and for finishers between 85-95p/kg deadweight.

However these estimates do not always allow for the exceptional finance costs faced by many producers after three years of negative returns.

Nor do they include the losses suffered in CSF regions, where Intervention Board payments are 25-30% below market value.

farmersfield.co.uk