UK pig herd cull stepped up

By Peter Crichton

UK sow slaughterers are reporting a flood of herd clearances as finished pig prices continue to drop and all hopes dashed of a return to profitability before the end of the Century.

Although the latest sow slaughtering statistics have yet to fully confirm this trend, industry sources point to a second wave of herd clearances from many producers who now find that they are in a negative equity trap.

Sow prices have also taken a dip as numbers build up and some other EU countries are also reporting a sharp rise in producers throwing in the towel.

Current cull sow deadweight quotes have slipped to 58p/kg from a 1999 high of 70p/kg in early September.

All the major breeding gilt supply companies have reported a slump in sales with many cash strapped UK producers opting for farm saved gilts rather than ordering more expensive bought in replacements.

In support of producers plight William Hague has agreed to back the BPISG “Banned in Britain but sold here” campaign.

Hague has warned that the UK pig industry faces collapse due to “unfair” competition from imports flooding in from other EU countries not bound by strict UK welfare and meat and bonemeal rules.

At the Tory Party Blackpool Conference next week he is expected to call for a ban on all pigmeat imports that do not match the UK specification.

Although such a ban would almost certainly face challenge from the EU, some sources believe that this could be resisted on the grounds that the Treaty of Rome entitles blocking these imports on the basis of the protection of animals and public morality.

  • Peter Crichton is a Suffolk-based pig farmer offering independent valuation and consultancy services to the UK pig industry

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