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Doubts raised over accuracy of December survey

by 5m Editor
20 March 2003, at 12:00am

UK - The December pig survey figures are causing concern in both England and Scotland.

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"We've been looking at ways of checking their accuracy - for instance comparing them with sales by feed compounders," said Stewart Houston, chairman of BPEX.

"As they stand the figures for England are at variance with the current low slaughter figures."

Doubts being expressed on both sides of the border raise the question of how realistic it is to expect government's December mini-survey to produce an accurate reflection of the herd at a time when the industry as a whole is still in a state of flux.

It is difficult to cross-check the figures using other criteria - such as feed consumption - when average sow productivity is not known, because of PMWS, infertility and other challenges.

There is a further problem. A few producers, fearful of the welter of new regulations currently descending on them, may have been tempted to give misleading sow numbers.

Considerable doubt has been cast on the Scottish results which are at marked variance to the results for England. One respected producer today described them as "rubbish".

"Taking the slaughter numbers at Scottish abattoirs and allowing for weaners sold south, a figure in excess of 50,000 breeding sows is reached," he said. This is confirmed by SFQC who have 51,400 sows recorded under the QA scheme."

Source: National Pig Association - 19th March 2003

5m Editor