Clean pig slaughter fell 1% year-on-year in August to 938,500 head, according to Defra’s figures. However, one fewer weekday in the month this year may have influenced this decline.
There were some differing trends throughout the UK. Slaughter was 3% lower in England and Wales, but a 10% (+15,000 head) increase in Northern Ireland partially compensated for this. Scottish slaughter was also 10% (+3,000 head) higher than last year.
Overall, pig supplies for the first six months of the year were about the same as last year during the same period.
At 19,200 head, UK cullings of adult sows and boars fell by 19% compared with the same month in 2018. Despite relatively high cull sow prices, this was the largest annual decline since April 2017. A younger breeding herd was expected to lower the cull rate this year. However, such a large decline could also signal positive producer intentions, perhaps with expectations of improved margins. For the January-August period, sow and boar slaughter has fallen by 8% compared to last year.
The average monthly carcase weight increased to 84.2kg in August. This reduced the annual increase slightly, though it remained a substantial 1.4kg.
AHDB senior analyst Bethan Wilkins said: “Despite a slight fall in pig numbers, the higher carcase weights meant that total pig meat production in August was similar to last year, at 81,900 tonnes.”