UK pig slaughter up in January, with carcase weights still elevated
UK clean pig slaughter in January 2020 totalled 960,200 head. This was 2% higher than in the same month last year.
Even though there was a keen demand for pigs before Christmas, meaning some pigs came to market earlier than usual, supplies have remained plentiful in the New Year. Nonetheless, there are still some expectations of lower numbers in the coming months, reflecting reports of stagnating productivity and disease challenges. An increase in sow numbers last year may mitigate the potential impact of this.
Slaughter in England and Wales was 2% higher than last January. The growth rate was higher elsewhere in the UK; Scottish throughput was up by 4% and numbers in Northern Ireland increased by 5%. We believe there has been a particular expansion in the Scottish pig herd recently, though many of these pigs will transfer to England for slaughter.
Producers continue to push to heavier weights, with the average clean pig carcase weight at 85.4kg, 800g above the year before.
Adult pig slaughter was 17% lower than year-earlier levels at 20,300 head. Slaughter last January was particularly high, perhaps influenced by concern at the time around a potential no-deal Brexit at the end of March.
Despite the fall in adult pig slaughter, higher clean pig throughput and heavier weights meant pig meat production also rose by 2%, to 84,800 tonnes.