German breeding herd declines
Provisional figures from the May 2015 German pig census show a stable herd overall but a decline in the size of the breeding herd.
The number of breeding sows was over 2% lower than a year earlier, reversing the increase seen in the previous year. This confirms that the low pig prices of recent months and the resulting poor profitability have had an impact. It appears that this was particularly felt by smaller producers, as the number of farms with breeding sows was down by 6% to under 10,000. Furthermore, numbers of both in-pig and maiden gilts were down 8%, suggesting there will be no recovery of sow numbers in the short-term.
The decline in the breeding herd supports suggestions that German finished pig supplies could tighten later in the year. If this is replicated elsewhere in the EU, it could provide some much-needed support to prices. However, the census results show that supplies may remain relatively plentiful in the short-term. The number of pigs being raised for slaughter in May was slightly higher than a year earlier, with a 1% rise in those in the heaviest weight category. Although the number of weaned pigs under 50kg was lower than in May 2014, it was still significantly higher than in May 2013, as was the number of piglets.