Peter Crichton’s commentary for May 16, 2014

It was another relatively quiet week as far as sellers were concerned, and although the DAPP continues to nudge ahead and now stands at 164.01p, no more money was available on the spot market where bacon traded within a fairly narrow 165-167p/kg range according to spec.

The latest APP of 165.77p compares with a DAPP of 163.9p for the same week, representing a price differential of 1.87p/kg, and it will be interesting to see if this trend continues through the summer until the DAPP is extinguished in October.

The combination of a weaker euro (slipping to 81.44p) and no sign to an end of the Russian embargo on pigmeat imports from the EU did nothing to help cull sow prices, which weakened again dropping a further 4p/kg this week. Export abattoirs were generally bidding in the 88-92p range according to load size and spec. This compares with the 126p for sows in mid-September last year, and represents a drop of more than 25%. The average cull sow is now worth little more than £130 after deductions.

Weaner prices have also been showing an easier tendency, mainly due to slightly better availability. The latest AHDB 30kg ex-farm average is quoted at £57.81 and 7kg weaners at £39.80, but these prices include a significant proportion of Freedom Food pigs within the overall sample.

Recent sharp falls in grain prices may, however, help to stimulate more interest in weaners due to lower cost of production figures. May 2014 LIFFE wheat futures closed much lower at £152.35/t on Friday, with more distant months such as November now under the £150/t benchmark.

Although the political situation in the Ukraine remains unsettled, recent increases in global forecasts of maize production have put downward pressure on wheat, although the impact of the US drought may be influential over the next few months.

And finally, reports circulating at the Pig Fair that “outdoor pigs” may have to be subject to Trichinella testing may not be quite as severe as originally feared, providing that outdoor units can meet the definition of controlled housing when compared with feral woodland pigs that have no fixed address and mix with other herds on a freelance basis – which is not the case on well-run outdoor units.

Outdoor producers should, however, ensure that they follow BPEX guidelines and, in particular, maintain a pest and rodent control programme to prevent any outside infestation of their pigs.

> Based in Suffolk, Peter Crichton provides a wide range of valuation, auction and livestock marketing services, as well as supplying the UK pig industry with a wide range of consultancy services covering tenancy, contract advice, pig equipment and herd valuations as well as dispute resolution. For more information visit: www.petercrichton.co.uk

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