AHDB Pork has suggested that Defra’s provisional UK pig herd figures, as at June 1, 2016, should be “viewed with caution”.
“The figures indicate a 2% increase in total pig numbers, relative to the same point last year,” said AHDB Pork, adding that this increase was largely driven by a 3% increase in feeding pig numbers, following on from expansion in the breeding herd at the end of 2015, particularly in Northern Ireland.
“They also indicate a somewhat unexpected 2% increase in the UK breeding herd, with both in-pig sows and in-pig gilts up, by 3% and 2% respectively.
“Poor pig prices during the first half of 2016 led to anecdotal reports that many producers were scaling back their breeding herds at this time. Equally, sow feed production was back 3%, on 2015, between January and June this year, which could suggest the number of breeding pigs to feed was in fact down. Hence the current data should be viewed with caution.”
AHDB Pork added, however, that the figures for maiden gilts showed a 3% decline in numbers, which would “potentially indicate there was a low desire to replace culled sows in the first half of this year”.
Defra’s provisional report only takes account of trends in England and Northern Ireland, of course, with the Scottish census results not due to be published until later this month, while Welsh herd figures will not be available until later in the year.