28 August 1998

Pig snags for Danes

DANISH pig producers could take 18 months to convert enough units to satisfy UK demand for pigmeat from stall and tether free systems. Low finished prices and threat of poorer sow performance in loose housing is restricting investment.

John Howard, Danish Bacon and Meat Councils UK-based marketing director, says 12-15% of producers have converted to stall and tether free systems, but 30% of producers need to convert to meet UKdemand.

Investment in new systems is being hampered by poor finished pigmeat prices which have tumbled from Dkr 11.02/kg (£1/kg) deadweight to Dkr 8.37/kg (76p/kg) over the last year.

Concern over sow performance in loose housing is also hindering conversion. Many producers are running parallel systems where sows unable to adapt to loose housing are kept in traditional stalls.

The number of producers running parallel systems is unclear, but Mr Howard says those producers are excluded from supplying UK contracts until totally stall and tether free. "It could be 18 months before UK total demand for pigmeat could be met from stall and tether free systems."

Should UK buyers demand all pigmeat from stall and tether free systems, Danish processors will be forced to buy shortfalls from other EU countries with loose-housed sows – the most prominent of which is the UK, he suggests.

Mr Howard.