Defra posts December pig census, backlog monitoring results

22% of English pig farmers have a backlog
calendar icon 25 March 2022
clock icon 2 minute read

According to AHDB lead analyst for red meat Duncan Wyatt, England's female pig breeding herd decreased by 7% since December 2020. Citing figures from the UK's Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Wyatt said the decrease was driven by a 14% fall in the number of pig sows but offset slightly by a 24% rise in the number of dry or suckled sows being kept for further breeding. England's female breeding herd now stands at 295,000.

Further details from the report include:

  • 80 thousand gilts for breeding, a 6.4% increase from 75,000 in December 2020. This may indicate a possible increase to the breeding herd in the future.
  • 7 million fattening pigs, an increase of 11% since December 2020 and the largest December population for almost 20 years. Piglets/suckling pigs account for almost 20% of fattening pigs, weaners weighing up to 29kg account for another 20% and fattening pigs weighing over 29kg make up the majority (60%).
  • 1 million total pigs, an increase of 9.0% since December 2020.

Concerning the backlog, Wyatt reported that 22% of pig farms in England had a backlog of pigs on farm on 1 February 2022, compared to 25% on 1 December 2021.

On 1 February 2021, this backlog equates to 47,000 weaners overdue movement, and 155,000 fatteners overdue for slaughter when raised to a national scale using the December 2021 pig population.

This is a reduction from 73 thousand weaners and 168 thousand fatteners reported overdue movement or slaughter on 1 December 2021, said Wyatt.

Two percent of pig farms in England reported the premature culling of pigs on farm during December 2021 and January 2022. This is unchanged from October and November 2021, Wyatt concluded.

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