German pig numbers lowest since 2011
Provisional figures from the November pig census show that the number of pigs in Germany had fallen 3% since last November to 27.5 million - the lowest level seen since 2011.
Declines were noted across the board but were particularly prevalent for breeding sows (-4%) and in-pig gilts (-6%), inferring that breeding herd rationalisation continues following a challenging financial year with declining pig prices. Over the past few months, the prices for weaners in Germany have declined sharply, causing a large impact on breeding farms and resulting in a negative impact on the number of breeding sows and, therefore, young pigs. All pig types saw a decline, implying that optimism in the industry is falling and producers are looking to streamline their operations.
The impact of the breeding herd reduction was felt with a reduction in the numbers of young pigs and slaughter pigs (both down 4%). This should result in a decline in the production levels as fewer pigs are available to come forward for slaughter. The reduction in the number of breeding sows is also likely to cause a longer term decline in production levels going through 2016, which may lead to a tightening in supply, potentially providing some support to prices.
The census also indicates that the decline in the number of pig farms continued throughout 2015. The total number of German farms keeping pigs fell by 4% to 25,700, with breeding farms declining more sharply, by 5% to 9,600.