Mass slaughter of prime breeding pigs

28 August 1998

Mass slaughter of prime breeding pigs

By Johann Tasker

THE slaughter has started: Farmers are sending lorry-loads of prime in-pig breeding sows to slaughter in an effort to avoid bankruptcy as the pig crisis deepens.

Cheale Meats in Essex, one of the biggest cull-sow slaughterers in the country, killed more than 1000 pigs yesterday, some of them two-thirds through their 16-week gestation period.

“Quite a number would have been in-pig,” said Paul Cheale, company director. “If you take 1000 sows at 15 piglets a sow, weve probably killed sows with pigs in to the equivalent of about 15,000 pigs.”

The slaughter of prime breeding stock is hard evidence that the pig crisis is having a devastating effect on the UK pig industry.

Cheale Meats usually slaughters about 5000 pigs each week. But it will open during part of the Bank Holiday weekend to meet demand which has boomed over recent weeks.

Pig prices have plummeted over recent months and many producers are losing £30 on each pig sold. Now many farmers have decided to cut their losses and leave pig-farming altogether.

Farmers from all over the country are sending lorry-loads of prime breeding pigs to be slaughtered in a last-ditch attempt to avoid bankruptcy.

Abattoir boss Paul Cheale examines carcasses of slaughtered in-pig sows

“They are slaughtering their production base,” said Mr Cheale. “I dont like it, but what option do farmers have? They only have so much money.”

The British Pig Association (BPA), which represents pig farmers interests, this week warned that 25% of the UK pig herd will be lost by Christmas.

The BPA urged retailers and caterers to act now and sell a greater volume of home-produced meat.

Retailers and caterers must drop their prices to encourage consumers to buy more meat, urged BPA chief executive, Grenville Welsh.

But even a large drop in checkout prices would not encourage shoppers to buy more pigmeat, said a spokesman for supermarket giant Tesco.

As far as food products are concerned, consumers tend to buy only as much as they need, said the spokesman.

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