Danish pig numbers are at their highest level for more than three years, increasing by 4% on the year to 12.8 million, according to BPEX.
“This was the largest pig herd recorded since the second quarter of 2011 and was a result of more pigs being kept for slaughter,” said BPEX, basing their assessment on the latest census figures released by Statistics Denmark.
“In particular, there were 7% more young pigs (under 50kg) and slaughter pigs (over 50kg) increased by 4% year on year. This is partly attributed to pigs being kept to heavier weights this year but it also suggests some slowdown in exports of weaners to other countries, where Germany and Poland are the key markets, given the significant fall in prices in recent months.”
Falling slaughter pig numbers have been an issue in the Danish pig industry for a long time, prompting the country’s meat processing giant, Danish Crown, to introduce a slaughter pig guarantee in September this year to ensure a finishing margin worth at least £9.30 a pig is available to producers.
The latest figures will be “welcomed by processors” commented BPEX, although the census, covering the three-month period to October 1, included some mixed signals.
The total Danish breeding herd, for example, was unchanged from a year previously with in-pig sow numbers rising marginally but in-pig gilt numbers declining. This left the total number of pregnant animals unchanged.
“This meant that sow numbers were slightly lower than on July1 , unlike last year, which could be the first sign that recent price falls are hitting producer confidence,” said BPEX. “However, the number of maiden gilts rose by 7% year on year, which suggests that some producers still have positive intentions. In addition, piglet numbers increased by 2% compared with October 2013, indicating a further rise in productivity.”