More work needed to improve UK pig herd performance

Britain’s pig producers will need to become even more productive in the future to compete with the rest of Europe, despite making good recent progress, according to a new costings report from AHDB Pork.

The report, which looks at pig meat production in all EU countries, shows that the cost of production in Britain dropped by 4% in 2016 compared to 2015, bringing the UK into line with the rest of the EU, which experienced an 8% increase in costs in sterling terms.

Despite this progress, however, the 24-page document also reveals plenty of scope for further UK advance in its analysis of the financial performance of all EU countries, including feed prices and costs as well as the number of pigs weaned and finished per sow each year.

“There are many challenges that exist and it is important that we become more productive now to help us to remain profitable in the future,” said AHDB Pork’s Senior Analyst Carol Davis, adding that one of the key issues for the pork sector is litter size with the number of pigs weaned per sow in the UK being below the EU average, despite a 2% increase in 2016.

The report shows the overall average number of pigs weaned per sow per year in the European countries increased in 2016, up from 26.81 in 2015 to 27.53 last year – with Denmark achieving 32.

In Britain, the number of pigs weaned per sow rose to 24.83 overall, with indoor sow production rising to 26.2, a small increase compared to 2015. Outdoor sows increased from 22.1 to 22.8 last year.

The main reason Britain has a below average number of pigs weaned per sow lies in the number of pigs born alive per litter, with Britain still performing below the EU average of 13.8. The 2016 Britain average of 12.5 (indoor sows 13, outdoor sows 11.7) was an increase compared to 12.3 in 2015.

“While Britain is making improvements, so is the rest of Europe and more needs to be done to improve our performance,” said Ms Davis.

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About The Author

Freelance journalist Colin Ley is Pig World's website news reporter