Marginal improvement only in 2020 GB breeding herd performance

The GB pig breeding herd showed only marginal improvements during 2020, with indoor breeding productivity falling over the year, the latest data from Agrosoft shows.

The overall average number of pigs weaned per sow per year increased by 0.11 pigs on 2019 to 26.22, equates to roughly one additional piglet for every 9 sows. These gains were made earlier on in 2020.

GB average pigs weaned.sow.year (to Q4 2020)

During the 12 months ended December 31, 2020, the number of pigs weaned per sow per year decreased by 0.21 pigs, compared to the 12-months ending September 2020. This indicates that performance in Q4 2020 alone was worse than in Q4 2019, AHDB analyst Felicity Rusk said.

Across the 12 months overall, performance in indoor systems recorded a slight reduction in pigs weaned per sow per year. On average, 27.43 pigs were weaned per sow per year, 0.02 pigs fewer than in the 12-months ending December 2019.

This was due to a reduction in litters per sow. An increase in pigs born alive per litter, and some decline in pre-weaning mortality, was able to compensate for the majority of these losses.

Conversely, the outdoor herd recorded an improvement – in the 12-months ending December 2020, on average 24.43 pigs were weaned per sow per year, 0.31 more than in the previous 12 month period. While the outdoor herd also recorded a decline in litters per sow, an increase in pigs born alive resulted in a considerable uplift in performance.

Both the indoor and outdoor herd saw below year-earlier performance for the Q4 period.

Impact of factor on breeding herd performance (12 months to Dec 2020)

“Despite the overall improvement in breeding herd performance in 2020, the faltering picture in the latter part of the year could potentially lead to tightening numbers available for slaughter in the coming months,” Ms Rusk said.

“However, normal slaughter timings were disrupted over the winter, leading to a backlog of pigs on farms.

“Any previous declines in performance may be more difficult to detect in short-term slaughter numbers, because backed up pigs will need to come through. Of course, numbers available also depend on performance throughout the rearing and finishing stages.”

The latest physical performance data for the GB pig herd can be found on the AHDB website here.

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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.