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UK breeding herd shows impressive performance gains

16 September 2020, at 3:49am

Great Britain's breeding herd showed positive growth over the last 12 months with the average number of pigs weaned per sow per year increasing.

Outdoor farrowing
Outdoor farrowing

© AHDB

The latest data from Agrosoft shows the Great Britain breeding herd continued to show positive gains in the 12-months ending June 2020. This improvement in performance is expected be reflected in supplies at the end of this year, and into the start of next, writes Felicity Rusk, AHDB livestock analyst.

The average number of pigs weaned per sow per year increased to 26.51, 0.38 pigs more than in the 12-months ending June 2019. This equates to ten additional piglets for every 26 sows.

While improvements in the number of piglets weaned per sow were recorded in both the indoor and outdoor breeding herds, the rise was more marked in indoor systems. This is in contrast to the trend we have seen over the last couple of years, where the outdoor herd has seen stronger gains.

In the 12-months to June 2020, the number of pigs weaned per sow per year in indoor systems averaged 27.89, 0.42 pigs more than in the 12-months ending June 2019. This increase was driven by a rise in the number of pigs born alive per litter. However, a slight increase in pre-weaning mortality and a reduction in the number of litters born per sow per year hampered gains.

Productivity also improved within the outdoor breeding herd. In the 12-months to June 2020, the number of pigs weaned per sow per year increased by 0.33 to 24.46 pigs, compared to the year ending June 2019. Outdoor herds recorded improvements in both the number of pigs born alive per litter and the number of litters born per sow per year. However, a rise in pre-weaning mortality offset some of these gains.

A considerable proportion of the gains made in the 12 months to June 2020 were made in between April-June this year alone. Compared to the 12 months ending March 2020, the number of pigs weaned per sow per year for indoor and outdoor herds increased by 0.37 pigs and 0.16 pigs respectively.

Looking ahead, a rise in the numbers of pigs weaned indicates that we could see growth in pigs slaughtered per sow towards the end of this year and into next, which agrees with our expectations for UK pig meat production for this period. Nevertheless, this will depend on performance throughout the rearing and finishing stages.

The latest physical performance data for the Great Britain pig herd can be found on the AHDB website here.