UK pig herd increasing in December

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Defra figures from the 1 December 2016 pig survey show a modest increase in the overall UK pig herd, by 3% to 4.5 million head.

This was largely driven by an increase in pig numbers in England. The increase comes at a time when pig producers are in a much better situation than a year earlier. Export demand from China and a tightening of supply has driven the pig price forwards, which has encouraged producers to expand their herds. Feeding pig numbers have recorded an increase of 3% to 4 million head. However, this increase is somewhat surprising given the fall in slaughtering levels over recent months, so there is an inference that they may be somewhat overstated.

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The female breeding herd was reported to have increased by 2% to 409,000 head. While this absolute figure is in excess of AHDB forecasts, the increase is in line with expectations. All of the devolved countries recorded increases, albeit modest ones, with both the Scottish and Northern Irish breeding herds up 1%. The English breeding herd noted the largest increase, of 2%. Of the UK total, the number of in-pig sows grew by 3%, while the number of in-pig gilts was up by 9%. At the same time, maiden gilts were back by 6%. This would all suggest that producers are beginning to expand their herds, to capitalise on the stronger price and satiate demand.

For further analysis into the census results, click here.

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Vikki Campbell, Senior Analyst
vikki.Campbell@ahdb.org.uk, 024 7647 8622