More Pigs in England in 2014

UK - Latest figures from Defra show that the English pig herd increased by two per cent in the year to December 2014.
calendar icon 6 March 2015
clock icon 2 minute read

At 3.66 million head, the herd was at its largest size in at least five years. These figures suggest that the recent year-on-year growth in pig meat production is likely to continue in the short-term, at least. This could mean that finished pig prices remain under pressure, although there is likely to be some seasonal tightening of supplies in the coming months.

Pigs on English agricultural holdings on 1 December ('000 head)
Total pigs 3,607 3,662 +2
- Female breeding herd 326 313 -4
- Sows in pig 226 209 -7
- Gilts in pig 50 44 -12
Maiden gilts 73 71 -2
Fattening pigs 3,195 3,267 +2
Source: Defra

In contrast, the figures record a four per cent fall in the English breeding herd, compared with December 2013. The published number of 313,000 head would represent the smallest sow herd for over half a century. However, this figure should be treated with caution as the June survey showed an even bigger fall but that was not supported by subsequent clean pig slaughterings.

The more detailed figures show a particularly sharp fall for in-pig gilts, which may be an indication that producers have been replacing fewer sows due to low cull prices. This is also supported by a rise in the number of suckling and dry sows.

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