UK pig herd down, but EU total up

By Peter Crichton

SIGNS are at long last emerging that the size of the national pig herd is set to decline.

Statistics recently published by Signet indicate that on-farm in-pig and maiden gilt numbers are down by a total of 3.5%, compared with the previous 12 months.

But the bad news is that the overall 15-nation EU herd size is up in all categories, with sows rising by 2.5%, in-pig gilts by 2% and maiden gilts by a massive 8.8%.

All of this spells more downward pressure on margins throughout the industry, and may mean that those producers who do not replace their stall-and-tether systems by the end of the year will get out, rather than meet the expense of the new regulations.

More evidence of a potential reduction in the UK herd size is provided by the latest sow slaughtering figures. These underline a surge in sow throughput in UK abattoirs, rising by 16% in the first quarter of 1998. Once the progeny pigs from these sows are out of the system, this will lead to a drop in the number of UK slaughter pigs on offer.

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

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