Performance in rearing and finishing herd worsens

For both the GB pig rearing and finishing herd, there has been some worsening in average feed conversion ratios (FCR) and daily liveweight gains (DLWG) in the 12 months to the end of June 2021, according to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

Rearing Herd

AHDB analyst Bethan Wilkins reported that the average FCR in the latest period was 1.82, up from 1.78 in the 12 months to June last year. An increase from the figure for the 12-months to March 2021 indicate that challenges with FCR have been seen in the most recent quarter.

Daily live weight gain averaged 486g, similar to the 12 months to June 2020, but 22g lower than the average recorded for the 12 months to March this year.

Ms Wilkins explained: “While weight gains were similar over the past year as a whole, in the latest quarter alone it seems weight gain has been lower than during Q2 last year.

Mortality rates were also down, averaging 3.8%, compared with 3.6% in the equivalent period last year.

Finishing Herd

In the 12-months to June 2021, the finishing FCR averaged 2.86 – the highest figure recorded since 2017, up from 2.75 in the same period last year.

Meanwhile, Daily live weight gain declined to an average 799g, down from 838g in the previous 12 months ending June 2020.

“Again, there has been a slow rise in mortality, which averaged 3.7%,” said Ms Wilkins. “Though only a couple of tenths of a percentage point higher than the previous year’s figure, this is still the highest finishing herd mortality on records going back to 2009.”

Ms Wilkins noted that the challenges with herd performance have come at a time when producers are facing high input prices, and producers have been facing a particularly difficult financial situation.

She said: “If rearing and finishing FCR, DLWG and mortality could have been maintained at the levels from the 12 months to June 2020, production costs would have been about 4p/kg lower. This is primarily due to a better finishing feed conversion ratio, meaning less finishing feed would have been required.

She added that, while improvements to physical performance could have some positive impact on producer profitability with margins at nearly -30p/kg for the first half of the year, improving physical performance is unlikely to be sufficient to bring producers back into profitability alone:

“Reports also indicate that there are once again difficulties with pigs backing up on farms recently. For affected producers, this will clearly make it difficult to achieve desired herd performance levels.”

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