Northern Ireland pig population swells to ten-year high

The latest figures published by DAERA have shown a 5% increase in pig numbers to 716,800 head in Northern Ireland in the year to June 2021 – the largest population on records covering the last decade.

The growth in the NI pig population brings the total UK population figure in June is now reported as 5.32 million head, with a breeding herd of 503,000 (including maiden gilts).

The total pig number is about 5% higher than last year, while the breeding pig population is virtually unchanged from 2020, despite a sizeable 8% increase in the breeding herd in Northern Ireland where numbers reached 58,000 head.

AHDB lead analyst Bethan Wilkins commented: “As in the rest of the UK, the strong pig population figures come despite high feed prices throughout 2020.

“There are expectations that the UK breeding herd will have gone into contraction in the latter part of the year, though official data supporting this is lacking so far.”

UK clean pig slaughter numbers from June-November were 2.5% higher than year earlier levels, although Ms Wilkins noted the figures are not always borne out in subsequent slaughter levels.

She added: “Nonetheless, there have clearly been difficulties in recent months with live pig supplies outpacing the rate of slaughter, and the strong increase in pig numbers seen in the June survey supports this.”

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