Weaners not following pig price rises

By Simon Wragg

WEANER prices are reluctant to follow the gentle rise in finished pigs and sharper lift in cull sow values, reflecting general caution among store finishers.

The leap in returns in the cull market has continued as more buyers have been attracted following a prolonged lull in trade, says Edinburgh-based auctioneer Stewart Archibald. And although these prices rose to touch £100/head in some markets for the best quality entries, trade has now slipped back.

“The market has settled, but more bidders is likely to keep the competition going,” he reports. “And I think were now starting to see numbers starting to dry up and that will help keep prices moving the right way (for producers).”

The fall in entries at market relates back to the expectation that MAFFs June census will show a fall in the national breeding herd to 650,000 sows, a marked decline on earlier predictions, explains consultant Peter Crichton.

As a result, weekly kill figures show 250,000 were processed in mid-June compared to 300,000 for the same period last year.

Finished supplies are tightening. As a result, price prospects are looking marginally better if the determined push to ensure retailers stick to British supplies for fresh meat sales succeeds.

While this has led to MLC predicting in this weeks Pig Market Update – released at the Royal Show – further price rises from the current 85p/kg deadweight later this year, weaner finishers remain pessimistic.

Store sales have yet to follow the fluctuations in finished and cull markets. MLC figures taken from weaner groups suggest this weeks market is somewhere between £24-£27.50 a head across much of the east and north, and marginally back at £24-£25 in the west.

Producers are very much aware of the margins involved in finishing feeding pigs, says Mr Archibald, especially north of the border were finished prices are discounted to cover travelling costs of moving pigs south for processing.

“If a producer is getting 70p/kg for his finished animal at 70kg deadweight, thats £49 income. Its going to cost £22 to fatten and that leaves just £27 – equivalent to 90p/kg – to buy in a feeder pig.

“Many of the better sorts are trading for that now with second quality entries at 65-70p/kg. The margins are tight,” he says.

Elsewhere, stores are trading at relatively low levels. Auctioneers at Mold, north Wales report 25kg weaners were averaging £14 each for last weeks small entry.

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