By Peter Crichton

SOW slaughterers are having to work to their full capacity, with a surge in the number of herd clearances booked in, as well as long waiting lists.

As a result, cull sow prices are slipping from close to 25p/kg liveweight to little more than 20p – but weaner prices are rising. The high culling rates is reflected in lower weaner numbers on offer.

Currently the average spot price for a 30kg weaner stands at £17.80, compared with £11.20 in October.

With over 100,000 tonnes of pigmeat now held in EU intervention stores and high slaughter numbers throughout most of the worlds pig-producing, countries the outlook remains difficult, according to trade analysts.

British Pig Industry Support Group members believe that the only way in which the UK industry may be able to survive in the face of cheaper imports is to continue with their campaign to stop imports and stimulate demand for UK pork on the home market.

One frustrated East Anglian producer took the radical step of dumping 10 tonnes of pig manure in a supermarket car park this week.

This was his form of protest against Budgens, a regional supermarket chain which has been sourcing some of its pigmeat from Belgium where, British farmers claim, stalls are still in use and meat and bonemeal remains in the pig feed rations.

Other retailers who operate on a similar basis have been warned that they may face similar action unless they switch to UK pigmeat now.