By Peter Crichton

A SECOND wave of herd cullings is feared as the pig price rally runs out of steam.

Finishers returns are still well below production costs and producers are hitting their overdraft limits.

Cull sow prices have started to slide towards the 50p/kg deadweight mark, against almost 60p in late February.

At the same time, other EU pig prices remain at a discount of up to 20p/kg compared with the UK, which is adding to negative pressure on the market – even though the availability of live pigs in the UK is starting to slip under the 300,000 per week mark.

Weaner producers are, however, enjoying price returns close to production costs for the first time for nine months, mainly due to the shortage of numbers needed on finishing units, rather than any long-term confidence in the trade as a whole.