GB breeding herd productivity declined in 2018, according to the latest physical performance data, provided to AHDB by Agrosoft, This was the first year performance has not improved since 2010.
The average number of pigs sold per sow per year fell from 24.09 in 2017 to 23.84 in 2018. This was largely due to a fall in the number of litters per sow per year, from 2.3 to 2.2.
AHDB analyst Bethan Wilkins said: “This probably reflects poorer fertility levels during the hot summer last year. The impact of this was then worsened by a rise in both rearing and finishing mortality. Some anecdotal reports suggest disease levels have been a challenge for the industry, with further evidence from APHA disease surveillance reports.”
The overall decline was driven by the outdoor breeding herd. The number of pigs weaned per sow fell from 22.41 to 21.57 (-0.73) for outdoor herds. Sows produced fewer litters, containing fewer piglets born alive than the year before. Rising rearing and finishing mortality meant pigs sold per sow declined even further (-0.84) to 21.57. The challenging weather conditions last year seem to have taken their toll.
Ms Wilkins added: “Conversely, indoor herds still managed to achieve a small improvement in performance last year. Pigs weaned per sow increased from 26.97 to 27.35 (+0.38). While the number of litters per sow did decline, this was counteracted by increased litter sizes and lower pre-weaning mortality levels. However, mortality was still higher at later stages, so the increase in pigs sold per sow was smaller (+0.17), reaching 25.41.”