German breeding herd declines further

The decline in the German breeding herd continued during 2019, according to the latest figures from Eurostat.

The number of sows in November 2019 totalled 1.78 million head, a decline of 3% compared with a year earlier. In part, this was due to an 8% reduction in the number of holdings keeping sows.

Increasingly demanding animal welfare regulations and uncertainty over planning future investments have influenced this decline. The ban on castration without anaesthesia from 2021 has likely been influential.

Reports suggest producers with smaller herds, in particular, have left the sector. With ASF getting closer to the German border, it is unlikely that optimism has increased in recent months, despite strong pig prices.


The figures also show a significant fall in the overall pig herd. The number of piglets was stable though, indicating further productivity gains. Nevertheless, the figures indicate that pig supplies are likely to remain tight during 2020, particularly in the second half of the year.

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