Danish breeding herd moving up

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The number of sows in Denmark is increasing again, according to data from the 1 April pig survey.

This follows 1 January pig count which recorded little change on the previous year as well as falling numbers during the course of 2016. The upturn is being helped by much better profitability as the finished pig market has moved up steadily since last spring.

The upturn in the breeding herd is confirmed by the fall in sow disposals, namely slaughterings and live exports, which were down by 9% in the first three months of 2017. The January 1 survey also indicated an increase of 6% in maiden gilt numbers, which will have contributed to the 2% increase in in-pig gilts in April. Total pig numbers though were still marginally down in April as more continue to be finished in other member states, despite the Danish industry encouraging more domestic finishing. Reflecting the increased sow herd, piglet numbers in April were up by 2% although young pigs, less than 50 kg, were largely unchanged.

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The number of slaughter pigs over 50kg on 1 April was down by 8%, the same reduction as in January. Exports of weaners especially to Poland continue to increase. However, there is evidence of some slowdown in the growth of this trade as data published by Landbrug & Fødevarer, the Danish agriculture and food board, indicates only a 1% increase in weaner exports in the first quarter of 2017 compared with an 11% rise in 2016 as a whole. However, this is continuing to reduce slaughterings of clean pigs in Denmark which were down 5% in the first quarter of 2017 and in line with the fall in 2016 as a whole. As a result, Danish pig meat production and hence export availability remains in decline which in turn could have implications in trade with the United Kingdom, the second largest pork market for Danish exporters.

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Leo Colby, Consultant

leo.colby@ahdb.org.uk