Smallest UK pig breeding herd since 2008
Provisional UK figures from the June survey indicate a 4% year-on-year decline in the overall breeding herd, to 502,000 head, the smallest recorded since 2008. However, despite this, further productivity gains mean that feeding pig numbers were only 1% lower compared with June 2013.
Provisional UK figures from the June survey indicate a 4% year-on-year decline in the overall breeding herd, including boars and maiden gilts, to 502,000 head. This was the smallest breeding herd recorded since 2008, largely resulting from a fall in English breeding pigs. Despite better profitability recently, producers were previously in a loss making situation for several years. The industry as a whole has not completely recovered from the losses incurred during that period, despite costs falling below pig prices. As a result, the latest female breeding herd figures reflect producer reluctance to make further investments in expansion at this stage, a situation worsened by subdued prices this year.
Looking at the figures in more detail, sows in-pig were down by almost 1% and other sows being kept for further breeding came down by 4%. However, the largest, reduction was recorded for in-pig gilts, which were down by 13% compared with June 2013. With maiden gilts kept for breeding also declining by 7% on a year earlier, this further highlights low producer confidence and suggests expansion is unlikely in the short-term. However, despite a large decrease in the breeding herd, further productivity gains mean that feeding pig numbers were only 1% lower compared with June 2013. Higher pig numbers in Scotland contributed to this to some extent. As such, the total number of pigs on UK farms had declined by 1% in the year to June, to 4.8 million head.