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Bethan Wilkins


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Strong growth in Northern Ireland pig herd

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The pig herd in Northern Ireland in June 2015 increased by 7% compared to the same time in 2014, according to preliminary results of the June agricultural census from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The total number of pigs as at 1 June 2015 was reported at 554,500 head. Compared to the December 2014 census there had been a general increase across all of the herd, with the breeding herd recording the highest rise.


The number of pigs for slaughter saw the most influential increase on the overall herd number, growing by 35,000 head (7%) in the year to June 2015. This is likely to continue as the total female breeding herd increased by 6% year on year, with gilts in pig rising by 9% in June 2015 compared to June 2014. Maiden gilts also rose by 6%, suggesting further breeding herd growth ahead. Despite this growth, the number of clean pigs slaughtered in Northern Ireland so far in 2015 recorded only a 4% increase compared to the same period in 2014. However, live imports of slaughter pigs from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland decreased by 3% in the first seven months of this year compared to a year earlier. This supports the slightly lower increase in slaughterings compared to the growth in the pig herd.