AHDB Pork voices “surprise” at Defra pig herd and breeding figures

The latest Defra figures, showing a 2% increase in the total English pig herd, have been described as “surprising” by AHDB Pork.

The “apparent increase”, taken from the June 1 English pig survey, comes at a time when industry reports are telling of a tightening of supplies, it states, adding that this has contributed to supporting the pig price, which has been increasing since April.

“Slaughtering figures for the first half of 2016 show that throughputs were only marginally up on 2015 levels, although levelling off more throughout the second quarter,” said AHDB Pork. “This would further support what the industry is saying, regarding supplies tightening.

“The figures released by Defra, however, would suggest that an increase in slaughterings might be recorded in the second half of the year.”

As with the total herd, Defra data for the female breeding herd also shows a 2% increase, with in-pig sows and in-pig gilts up by 3% and 2% respectively.

“However,” added AHDB Pork, “the number of maiden gilts fell by 4%, maybe suggesting that producers are not looking to replenish their breeding herds at the same rate.

“Given that sow slaughterings have been up in the first half of 2016, it is somewhat surprising to see an increase in the breeding herd. If correct, Defra’s figures would suggest that there might be an increase in supplies in the longer term.”

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