UK clean pig slaughterings during March were 15% lower than a year ago, confirming the severe tightening of supplies across the country.
The latest Defra monthly livestock slaughtering statistics show a March clean pig kill of 899,000, compared with March 2022 figure of 1,059,000. This follows a 17% year-on-year decline in February clean pig slaughterings to 762,000, in a shorter month.
Translated into average weekly slaughterings, the latest Defra figures show a slight increase in March, at 203,000 pigs/week, compared with January, 194,000, and February, 191,000.
The figure tally with AHDB’s weekly estimated GB slaughter data. For the five weeks w/e March 4 – April1, numbers stood at 758,700 head, the lowest total for the month of March since records began in 2014..
This is 200,000 head below the record high throughputs of March last year and nearly 140,000 head below the 5-year average. Estimated slaughter numbers for the year to date stand at 2.02 million head, a significant decline of 16% year on year and 13% compared below the 5-year average.
Supplies remain tight into April. Estimated GB slaughterings during the week ended April 8, at just 145,511, were nearly 9,000 down on the previous week and the lowest recorded this year. The figure was nearly 45,000 below 2022 levels and 41,000 below the 2021 figure, continuing the trend seen in recent weeks.
The decline in slaughterings allied with lower slaughter weights, alongside a buoyant EU market, is helping to drive the pig price higher.
It follows an estimated 20% contraction in the English sow herd last year, as producers came under huge financial pressure. Supplies are also being affected by last year’s summer infertility issues, which, according to Thames Valley Cambac’s latest market update, ‘continues to challenge the number of available finish pigs offered to the market’.
TVC added: “Some processors are hungrier for product than others. Those having a weekly contribution did increase their offering. Some finishers have seen slower growth rates and are reporting that their weights are dropping, although this is not reflected in the weights published in the SPP sample.
“This would suggest producers are allowing weights to potentially rise as the pigs grow into money week-on-week. With cereals dropping in price, weight in finish pigs will certainly pay going forward.”
TVC also noted ‘lots of enquiries for weaners and stores as producers look to plug gaps in production but with very little supply’.