Northern Ireland pig herd grows; Wales shows further decline
Final results for the June Agricultural Census in Northern Ireland indicate that the pig herd showed slightly more growth than previously anticipated. In contrast, the small Welsh herd declined further.
Compared to June 2015, at 601.1 thousand head total pig numbers in Northern Ireland saw a 6% year-on-year rise, two points more than the provisional results suggested. This trend was driven by a 6% increase in finishing pigs, following from the growth in large, productive herds driving overall NI breeding herd expansion in 2015. Some growth can also likely be attributed to cross-border imports of pigs for finishing.
The final figures continue to indicate an overall 2% rise in the female breeding herd compared to 2015, at 46.4 thousand head. However within this, numbers of in-pig sows have been revised up, while in-pig gilt numbers have been significantly revised down. With poor pig prices in the first half of 2016, it seems there was reluctance amongst producers to introduce new pigs to the breeding herd at this time.
In contrast, figures for Wales from the June survey of Agriculture and Horticulture indicate that the already small pig herd fell by a further 8% relative to June 2015, to 23,200 head. Decreases were seen in both the breeding herd and pigs for slaughter. Though numbers have fluctuated between 20,000 and 30,000 head over the past 10 years, this is the smallest Welsh pig herd recorded since 2009.
Bethan Wilkins, Trainee Analyst
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