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Defra Confirms UK Pig Herd Up 3 Per Cent in June

21 December 2016

British Pig Executive

UK - On the 1 June, the UK pig herd stood at 4.87 million head, up 3 per cent on the year, according to the final results of Defra’s June Survey published last week.

Furthermore, the final estimate is up very slightly (17Kt) on the provisional figures released in October.

The year on year increase in pig numbers is largely driven by a rise in the finisher herd, up 3 per cent on 2015, to 4.36 million head. The latest release also records an increase on the year in the UK breeding herd of 2 per cent, which at 415 thousand head remains unchanged from October’s provisional projections.

The majority of the increase has been driven by a rise in in-pig sows of 3 per cent on the year at 295 thousand head.

Nonetheless, pig prices hit multi-year lows during the first half of 2016 and sow feed production from January – June was down 3 per cent year on year. This backs up anecdotal reports that producers were scaling back their breeding herds during this time. Therefore, the latest data need to be viewed with caution.

The situation might be partly reflected in the latest Defra figures, though, as they do record a decrease in maiden gilts of 6 per cent on the year at 79 thousand head, which is a further reduction from the provisional figure of 82 thousand head. This may suggest producers’ reluctance to replace culled sows in the first half of the year.

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