The latest Defra Farm Business Income forecasts are predicting a dramatic fall in pig farm incomes in 2018/19, as rising feed costs and lower prices virtually wipe out margins.
The typical pig farm in England is expected to barely break even, with incomes expected to fall on all farm types in 2018/19 except cereal farms. Specialist pig farms are expected to suffer the largest decrease, with incomes forecast to fall to around £1,000, compared to £31,300 in 2017/18, a 96% reduction, and £60,000 in 2016/17.
An 8% Increase in feed is identified as the major contributing factor. Although production increased slightly, output from pigs is forecast to decrease by 2%, reflecting falls in average prices for cull sows, clean pigs, weaner and stores.
The overall picture could be worse as the extent of these price decreases is not fully reflected in the forecasts as contract rearers are well represented in the survey sample of pig farms.
Defra has also published its latest survey on livestock numbers, showing pig numbers in England fell by 0.8% during 2018 to 3.68 million, with the female breeding herd down by 0.9% to 322,000. The December figures tend be lower than the June census figures, which put total pig numbers in excess of 4m in 2018 and are often subject to revision.