By Peter Crichton

SIGNET has quoted a potential shortfall of up to 30% in the UK herd by next spring. This could send all abattoirs looking for extra throughput which could lead to more abattoir closures, mergers and rationalisation in the year ahead.

On the price front spot quotes are continuing to rise with most outlets prepared to increase their prices by 2-4%/kg. This puts baconers into the 60-66p range compared with the latest AESA quote of 61.52p for the week ending 10 October, a rise of 1.51p.

Weaners prices are also edging up with the average 30kg pig traded ex farm between £14 and £18 according to region and quality.

Because the North of the country has seen the fastest rate of herd clearances, weaner and finished pig numbers are shorter and prices there are showing a significant edge over the Eastern Counties. This is because many East Anglian herds form part of larger arable enterprises and have been able to stay in business throughout the slump whereas in the North there are a higher proportion of pig only operations.

In spite of theses recent price movements all breeders are still operating at well below cost of production and are currently facing losses of £1o to £15 for every pig produced together with rising interest costs on soaring overdrafts.

The latest Nat West Bank survey confirms the negative equity trap faced by most sectors of he farming industry with pig producers among the hardest hit.

  • Peter Crichton is a Suffolk-based pig farmer offering independent valuation and consultancy services to the UK pig industry