Smallest English breeding herd in 60 years
Latest figures published by Defra recorded the smallest English pig breeding herd in around 60 years, at 329,000 head, 5% down compared with the same point in 2013. Despite the lower breeding herd, productivity is pushing the overall pig herd to higher levels.
Latest June Agricultural Survey figures published by Defra recorded the smallest English female pig breeding herd in around 60 years, at 329,000 head. This was 5% down compared with the same point in 2013. Despite improving 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. Sows in-pig declined by 2%, while in-pig gilts were down by as much as 14% on a year earlier. Maiden gilts also recorded a decline of 7% year-on-year, raising further questions about producer intentions in the near future.
The total number of pigs in England declined by 3% compared with June 2013, to just under 4 million head. However, it is worth noting that last year’s figure was particularly (and unexpectedly) high and the increase was not reflected in subsequent slaughterings. In fact, the overall pig herd this year was 8% higher than that recorded for June 2012, which could be a better representation of the general trend in English pig industry. Despite the lower breeding herd, productivity is pushing the overall pig herd to higher levels.