Coals to Newcastle or hogs to Holland?

Thursday, 26 February, 1998

By Peter Crichton

UK pig producers are hoping to outwit farmers in the European Union by rearing “super hogs” for manufacturers and bacon users in Holland and the Low Countries.

Although there are plenty of pigs in this region of the EU, Dutch curers report that quality is a major problem. The heavy hog market requires an exceptionally meaty export-dressed carcass weighing 80-100kg deadweight without the head.

Back in this country, domestic producers are studying the viability of rearing “super hogs” weighing up to 140kg liveweight. Slaughtering will have to take place in the UK, but the aim is to produce a hog with a killing-out percentage of about 71% for export.

However, for those UK breeders who have the correct genetic base to produce the double-muscled type of pig needed, and adequate spare finishing-house capacity, the ideal of exporting giant pigs to Holland is an opportunity to add value while feed prices are low.

At current quotations a 95kg carcass is worth around £88 to the producer, compared with £68 for a 74kg bacon carcass sold on an All-Average Pig Price contract on the UK market.

This extra £20 per head will more than cover additional feed and fixed costs incurred in adding a further 35kg liveweight. Those producers with access to cheap by-products should be able to reap the benefits by adding the extra kilos at less than 30p/kg.

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