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High Weights, More Sows Add to UK Pork Production

22 February 2016, at 6:00am

UK - Pig meat production in the UK continued to outpace beef production in January, according to the latest DEFRA figures. Output increased by 4 per cent compared with the same period last year, to 85,700 tonnes.

Higher production levels were due to a combination of factors. Clean pig slaughterings in January 2016 increased 2 per cent on the same period last year, to 978,800 head, and the average carcase weight increased over 1 per cent to 83.8kg. Therefore more, heavier pigs were coming forward to slaughter.

The UK production figure was slightly subdued due to a fall in clean pig slaughterings in Scotland (-32 per cent to 18,000 head) and Northern Ireland (-2 per cent to 158,000 head) on the same period last year.

The fall in Scotland was due to the installation of new pig slaughtering facilities at the leading Scottish abattoir. This may help to increase Scottish slaughter volumes in future months and reduce the number of Scottish pigs being sent into England for slaughter.

During January, average carcase weights were the heaviest on record and there were some reports that these were affecting processing machinery and breaking equipment.

The average weight increased 4 per cent, compared with the previous month, and 1 per cent on the same month last year. Sow cullings were also up on the same period last year, by 14 per cent to 25,200 head.

This may be an early indication that the downwards price pressure in the pig market is starting to force some producers to begin rationalising their breeding herds, although the figure for January 2015 was lower than normal.

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