15 September 2000

New restrictions for pig markets

FURTHER restrictions were imposed on pig markets in the east this week after the confirmation of new cases of classical swine fever.

William Frazier was forced to shut down the Aylsham venue, which normally handles about 600 pigs a week, due to positive testing for the disease on a local unit.

Aylsham had been closed several weeks ago as a voluntary measure, but this latest development will hit hard, says Mr Frazier: "About half the pigs we would normally handle are affected by the restrictions with the latest outbreak.

"I am managing to get about 200 pigs off farms and direct to abattoirs further afield, which at least is giving some turnover to the business.

"But it is dire. I suspect many producers facing a welfare problem will enter stock on to the MAFF scheme. The compensation is not good, but I reckon it is probably the best they will get."

In a separate move auctioneers at Colchester were waiting to hear from local MAFF officials as farmers weekly went to press if they could welcome pigs into the market again after a five-week absence. Local restrictions were due to be lifted.

"If we can reopen then we hope to have about 150 fat pigs in this coming week, about half our normal numbers. Store pig trade will restart next Friday if we get the all-clear," says auctioneer Graham Ellis.

Despite shortages pig prices have remained relatively unchanged. Throughout late August slaughter numbers were about 240,000 a week, according to MAFF (compared with 274,000 for the same period last year). The adjusted eurospec average is still hovering around 102p/kg deadweight, up 18.5p/kg on last year. &#42