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Irish Pig Census 2003

by 5m Editor
12 May 2003, at 12:00am

By Pat Tuite, Chief Pig Adviser, Teagasc, Drogheda - One profitable year out of the last five has not been enough to halt the decline in the Irish sow herd. The deeply depressed prices of 1998 & 1999 did not cause an immediate contraction in sow numbers. But the continuing poor returns, with the exception of 2001, have begun to take their toll. This has been most obvious since mid-2002.

Every two years Teagasc pig advisers do an accurate survey of all commercial pig units in the country. This monitors changes in herd structure and distribution and provides reliable data for planning future strategy.

Table 1 summarises the structure of Irish pig production in January 2003. The main changes and trends which have taken place since January 2001 are:

  • Sow numbers have declined by 5,740 (-3.5%) to about 160,000.
  • The number of commercial pig units has declined by a further 8% to 510 farms.
  • The decline in pig units was almost exclusively confined to sow units with less than 300 sows, with a decline of 48 units.
  • Only 2.4% of all sows are now found in units of less than 100 sows.
  • The average herd size has increased from 355 sows to 383 sows. Integrated breeding and finishing units have an average herd size of 387 sows, while specialised breeding units average 359 sows.
  • The percentage of sows in integrated units has increased by 1.4% to 86%. A significant number of producers own or lease breeding units and finishing units on separate sites. These are classified as specialised breeding or finishing units.
  • There has been an increase of over 20,000 finishing places (+15%) in specialised finishing units since 2001.

The main features of the current pig herd structure are:

  • The total sow herd of 160,360 is almost 5,000 sows less than the 165,100 sows estimated by the CSO for December 1st 2002.
  • The current sow numbers are capable of producing approx. 3.43 million pigs per year or 66,000 pigs per week.
  • Approx. 150 pig units (i.e. > 275 integrated sow places, >650 breeding sow places or > 2,000 finishing places) may be liable for an IPPC licence under proposed thresholds. Where practical, herd sizes will be reduced to avoid the necessity to obtain an IPPC licence. It is estimated that about 65% of current sows will eventually have an IPPC licence.
  • There are still 33 units with more than 1,000 sows each carrying a total of 51,915 sows (32% of total sows). There are now 104 units with 500 sows+, carrying 97,855 sows (61% of total sows).
  • The increase in specialised finishing places reflects the growth in contract finishing. This facilitates a higher slaughter weight, which has increased by over 3kg since 2000.

Table 2 shows the distribution of pig farms by county. The main features of the current spread are:

  • 53% of all sows and finishing pigs are found in just four counties (viz. Cork, Cavan, Tipperary & Longford). Pig numbers have fallen in each of these counties since 2001, with the exception of Longford.
  • Three quarters of all pigs are reared in ten counties.
  • Eight counties have now only 31 pig units between them.
  • Eight counties have shown an increase in sow numbers since 2001.

Table 1: Summary of Commercial Pig Units in Ireland January 2003

A

Integrated Breeding & Finishing Units (86% Sows)

Unit Size (Sows)

No. Units

No. Sows in Category

<100

100 - 199

200 - 299

300 - 499

500 - 999

1,000+

49

79

86

57

58

29

3,012

11,085

20,322

21,385

37,465

45,196

Totals

358

138,465

B

Specialised Breeding Units

Unit Size (Sows)

No. Units

No. Sows in Category

100 - 199

200 - 299

300 - 499

500 - 999

1,000+

14

18

7

5

13

4

805

2,410

1,740

1,745

8,475

6,720

Totals

61

21,895

C

Specialised Finishing Units

Unit Size (Finishing Places)

No. Units

No. Finishing Places in Category

<500

500 - 999

1,000 - 1,999

2,000 - 4,999

5,000+

18

25

25

14

9

5,700

16,020

32,800

37,850

59,600

Totals

91

151,970

Grand Totals: 419 Sow Units with 160,360 sows

449 Finishing Units with 812,930 places

510 Commercial Pig Farms



Table 2: Summary of Commercial Pig Units by County January 2003

Breeding Units

Farms Producing Finishing Pigs

Total No.

County

No. Units

No. Sows

No. Units

No. Pig Places

Pig Units

Cork

Cavan

Tipperary

Longford

80

57

48

13

30,644

28,650

17,875

7,825+

77

65

44

13

153,380

161,525

80,120

36,150

95

67

53

15

Waterford

Westmeath

Offaly

Kilkenny

Laois

Wexford

16

8

12

17

11

20

6,580-

6,370+

6,140-

5,775-

5,160+

5,105-

21

13

12

19

9

24

41,900

37,975

20,950

31,250

25,370

25,195

21

15

16

21

13

28

Limerick

Kerry

Meath

Kildare

Donegal

Monaghan

Mayo

Leitrim

11

18

13

8

24

13

12

8

5,030-

4,655+

4,430+

3,785+

3,730-

3,050-

3,020+

2,830-

13

17

15

14

22

17

14

7

23,900

21,820

20,020

11,290

19,800

17,900

14,120

13,575

14

19

16

15

25

17

16

8

Carlow

Roscommon

Wicklow

Clare

Galway

Louth

Sligo

Dublin

8

6

4

5

5

3

2,050-

2,045+

1,375-

1,340-

710-

2,185

9

5

5

5

6

4

13,470

9,400

15,150

6,000

3,670

9,000

9

6

5

5

7

4

Totals

420

160,360

450

812,930

510