German pig herd declines significantly
According to provisional results from the November census, the total number of pigs in Germany fell by 4% compared to year earlier levels.
Within this total, the number of breeding sows fell by 4%. The rate of decline has escalated since the May census, when breeding sow numbers were down by less than 3% year-on-year. It also seems there may have been some recent difficulties with sow performance, as piglet and young pig numbers were both down by 5%. Fattening pig numbers were a little less affected though (-3%) suggesting productivity had been improving earlier in the year.
These figures suggest that supplies may be tightening on the key German market through the early part of this year. This situation may be exaggerated if imports of Dutch slaughter pigs continue to decline, as was the case for much of 2017.
The figures also show another sharp fall in the number of German pig farms. Overall, there were 5% fewer farms with pigs in the country, with breeding farms showing a stronger decline of 6% to 7,800 units. Difficult economic conditions, and a lack of optimism about the future due to a mix of declining consumption, increasing regulation and possibly even African Swine Fever in Belgium, may have led many units to close.
Bethan Wilkins, Analyst
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