English pig herd: the comeback starts here

by 5m Editor
26 March 2004, at 12:00am

ENGLAND - The English breeding herd fell by only 2,00 sows - 1.7 percent - last year, according to Defra's December-to-December census. This is an excellent result for an industry that hitherto has been in freefall.

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A further pointer to increased stability, is the small growth that can be seen in the breeding herd when comparing the December 2003 figures with the June 2003 census.

The number of fattening pigs fell 12.4 percent last year, which is a less satisfactory figure if the industry is to maintain critical mass in slaughter numbers.

However, the current stabilisation of the sector is making producers keener to invest and according to Mick Sloyan at BPEX this will lead to productivity gains, which in turn will leading to higher slaughter figures.

"Losing market share is a serious issue," he said. "We have to get more pigs back into the system, and we can do that with relatively modest investment."

The industry's aim over the past four years has been to bring about the market changes necessary to stabilise the national herd. This has now been achieved and, if the December-June comparison is to be believed, the breeding herd may even be growing.

Under these new conditions it is anticipated (there are signs of it already) that producers will start to make planned investments. The consequent improvement in productivity will, in time, see British pig keepers recapture their international reputation for excellent productivity.

(The December survey is smaller than the June full census and is there subject to a degree of sampling error.)

Source: National Pig Association - 25th March 2004

5m Editor