Farming Today shines spotlight on pigs all week

BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today programme is being broadcast from a pig farm in East Yorkshire all week.

The BBC team is spending the week at Vicky and Kate Morgans’ farm near Driffield, in East Yorkshire.

The programmes will take an in-depth look at the big issues facing the pig sector, including the antibiotic challenge, the current structure of the industry and the spotlight on animal welfare. They will also focus on the day-to-day running of a pig farm.

In the first programme, NPA chairman Richard Lister was interviewed about the state of the pig sector.

With the sow herd having halved over the past 20 years to 420,000 animals, he said the pig had endured a ‘roller coaster ride’ over the past two decades.

“The pig industry has been through some very difficult times, although we have been resurging more recently. We now produce as much pigmeat as we did 10 years ago on the back of better efficiency, better production and higher carcase weights.”

He highlighted the ‘huge diversity’ of production systems within the sector, with the UK, uniquely in Europe, keeping 40% of its sows outdoors, for example. There has been a general move towards farms getting larger to take advantage of economies of scale, but there are still many small farms, he added.

“Most businesses have had to increase size to increase efficiency,” he said. “Twenty years ago the average farm size would been 80 sows, now it will be around 300.”

You can listen to the programme in full here

Mr Lister was also questioned on the welfare standards associated with pig production, including the use of farrowing crates. He explained how farrowing crates serve an important function in protecting newborn piglets and reducing mortality rates.

  • Image shows presenter Anna Hill and producer Lucy Taylor on site.

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Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.