By Peter Crichton
THE UK pig herd is set to shrink for the rest of the year, according to latest figures.
This will also reduce the number of slaughter pigs in the system and push the weekly kill below the 200,000/week mark.
The MAFF December 2000 census shows a year-on-year reduction of 12%, with the UK herd quoted at 578,000 sows and in-pig gilts.
These have the potential to produce just 211,000 slaughter pigs/week, based on 19 pigs finished a year.
However the effects of PDNS and PMWS, which are still causing havoc in many parts of the country, also have to be allowed for.
Producers are reporting mortality among growing pigs of between 15% and 20% and little success in bringing the disease under control.
With cull-sow numbers building up on farms breeders have been forced to retain and re-serve these older, less productive sows.
At the same time, breeding companies are finding it hard to supply gilts to many of their customers due to foot-and-mouth movement restrictions.
Farm saved gilts are being used to bridge the gap but will inevitably lead to a less productive herd and lower prolificacy in the future.
- Peter Crichton is a Suffolk-based pig farmer offering independent valuation and consultancy services to the UK pig industry
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