By Peter Crichton

SOW slaughterings remain at record levels and the major sow abattoirs are working to full capacity with insufficient chiller space to handle more. This is coupled with reports from breeding companies that their gilt orders are collapsing as producers go into negative cash flow.

The impact of this will lead to a sharp reduction in the overall size of the UK herd which until recently stood at close to 800,000 head. When the June census figures are announced evidence of the initial drop in herd size should be available.

In an attempt to address the problems facing the industry Don Curry, chairman of the MLC has been on a whistle stop tour of some of the major abattoirs where he has talked to meat traders as well as some of the countrys leading pig farmers.

It was reported that he was received with general hostility, and his positive claims that autumn prices could touch 80p/kg were met with general disbelief by many.

There is no doubt in the minds of many leading industry figures that the UK herd could have shrunk by up to 30% in nine months time and this will have a major knock-on effect on the slaughtering and allied trades.