By Peter Crichton

THE slump in pig prices throughout the EU has put further pressure on UK breeders, and more are now being forced to leave the industry.

The three major UK sow slaughterers report full entry books as cash-strapped farmers book in extra numbers before the sow export market shuts down over the Christmas period.

Because of the slump in manufacturing, pigmeat prices and the loss of the Russian market, many exporters are finding it hard to shift their stock, even at rock-bottom prices.

The current UK sow cull price has never been lower in real terms, and stands at about 18p/kg liveweight, with cull boars approaching nil value between 8-10p/kg.

With year-end balance-sheet valuations looming, many UK pig farmers will find that they are technically insolvent.

The desperate state of the industry is illustrated by the amounts now owed to compounders, with the recent BOCM Pauls £69 million buyout including several million pounds-worth of farm debtors.

If the reported countrywide losses of £15/pig are applied on an annual basis, the industry stands to loose £240 million, and this level of debt cannot be maintained for much longer.

Although the main UK clearing banks are being as supportive as possible, recent freehold revaluations for lending security purposes have seen 600-sow farrow-to-finish units as low as £100/sow place. This is little more than recent annual rental values.

  • Peter Crichton is a Suffolk-based pig farmer offering independent valuation and consultancy services to the UK pig industry