Pig numbers rise in Northern Ireland but hit a seven-year low in Wales

The pig herd in Northern Ireland (NI) has shown slightly more growth than anticipated, based on the final results of the NI June Agricultural Census, according to AHDB Pork.

The equivalent census figures for the Welsh pig herd, however, show a further decline in numbers.

Total pig numbers in NI saw a 6% year-on-year rise in the 12 months to June 2016, with the increase taking numbers to just over 601,000, two percentage more than was indicated by the earlier provisional results.

AHDB Pork commented that the upward trend was driven by a 6% increase in finishing pigs, following on from the growth in NI’s larger and more productive herds in 2015. Some numbers growth was also “attributed” to cross-border imports of pigs for finishing.

“The final figures continue to indicate an overall 2% rise in the female breeding herd compared to 2015,” said AHDB Pork, while noting that in-pig gilt numbers have been “significantly revised down”.

“With poor pig prices in the first half of 2016, it seems there was reluctance amongst producers to introduce new pigs to the breeding herd at this time.”

Figures for Wales, meanwhile, drawn from the country’s June survey, indicate that the nation’s already small pig herd fell by a further 8% relative to June 2015, declining to 23,200 head. Decreases were seen in both the breeding herd and pigs for slaughter.

“Although numbers have fluctuated between 20,000 and 30,000 head over the past 10 years, this is the smallest Welsh pig herd recorded since 2009,” said AHDB Pork.

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