Farmer Focus: Fears over pig prices fall and high feed costs

The pig job is starting to get seriously worrying.

We have had well over a year of falling pig prices and feed prices have moved in the opposite direction.

As a simple rule of thumb calculation, if feed wheat is £170/t, the pig price should be £1.70p/kg.

Now we’re paying the £170/t for wheat, but the pig price is less than £1.40/kg – this is unsustainable.

To add to the gloom – and this goes for all livestock farmers – we are being accused of destroying the planet and abusing the livestock we care so deeply about.

Meanwhile, we work hard, doing double the hours that “normal” people work.

See also: How pig producers can cut feed wastage on farm

Having got that little rant off my chest, I was at a marketing group meeting the other night where the two speakers gave me some optimism for the future.

Phil Woodall of national pig marketing co-operative TVC told us how producers in Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark were culling sows heavily.

This was due to low prices, environmental issues and the continuing African swine fever problems in China.

These factors are going to create shortages. This, coupled with falling futures prices for wheat, give me the gut feeling that it’s going to come right for us pig farmers, but it may be too late for some.

The other speaker was Sophie Throup, agriculture manager for Morrison’s. Although we don’t sell our pigs to Morrison’s, I must say I was very impressed with her presentation.

In particular, I liked her message that Morrison’s doesn’t do “fake farms”, which is the spurious marketing of meat under fictitious farm names.

This amounts to nothing more than putting a made-up name on boxes of meat that come from multiple farms in the supply group.  

At home, the pigs have got over their cough in the finishing yards and are flying again.

The breeding unit is performing really well. At this time of year we would normally expect some reproduction problems, but “touch wood”, so far, so good.  

I don’t want to give it the commentator’s curse, but this could mean we might be breaking new performance records again – oops, I’ve done it now!

David Owers is a Farmer Focus writer in Lincolnshire. Read his biography.