By Farmers Weekly staff

WEANER prices are rocketing as pig supplies tighten.

Worth £20/head in mid-January, they are now changing hands for more than £30. The tighter supplies reflect the 11% contraction in the breeding herd last year, says Meat and Livestock Commission economist Tony Fowler.

Fewer weaners means fewer finished pigs in the pipeline, sparking further predictions of a rapid upturn in values. Latest MLC predictions are for levels of between 95p and 101p/kg dw by July.

“Hard-pressed British pig farmers will reach the break-even point by the middle of the year and return to profit soon after,” says an MLC spokesman.

Slaughterings are already declining, with the weekly kill having fallen from 330,000 head before Christmas to less than 300,000 in mid-February. And by the final three months of 1999, the figure could be 15% down on 1998 levels..