Production buoyed by carcase weights in October

UK clean pig slaughterings totalled 908,800 head in October, 4% higher on the year, according to latest data from Defra.

However, October 2017 had an extra working day compared with October 2016, therefore on an equivalent basis, monthly slaughterings were marginally down on the year (-1%). Year to date (January to October) slaughterings remain behind year earlier levels by 3%, at 8.5 million head.

According to AHDB analysis, slaughterings of clean pigs in Scotland have significantly reduced since August due to the temporary closure of a major plant. However, a 69% (19,000 head) decrease in Scottish clean pig slaughterings on the year in October was offset by a 12% (17,000 head) rise in Northern Irish slaughterings, plus a 5% (36,000 head) increase in England and Wales. The plant that was closed in Scotland reopened in mid-November, so Scottish slaughterings may rebalance in the near future.

Pig meat production in the UK reported a 7% increase on the year in October to 79,800 tonnes. When accounting for the extra working day this year, production on a like-for-like basis was a more modest 2% higher year on year. Considering the fall in slaughterings on an equivalent basis, the rise in production in October is a direct reflection of continually increasing carcase weights. In October, carcase weights gained 600g on the month to average 85.1kg, the heaviest since records began in 1987.

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Sow and boar slaughterings were 9% lower on the year in October, at 17,300 head. This is consistent with the trend observed so far in the year, with overall year to date slaughterings also down 10% at 192,900 head.

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