Rising Q3 pig feed production signals growing pig herd

UK pig feed production for July-October was 4% higher than in the same period last year, reinforcing the belief that herd is growing.

The latest AHDB figures show a continuation of the growth trend that has been in place since the start of 2019. At 678,000 tonnes production was also 4% higher than in the previous four-month period.

Breeding pig feed output was higher on the year, rising by 1%, in contrast to the position earlier in Q2 when production had been slightly lower than in the same quarter of 2019. Feed output for all stages of clean pig production was also higher on a year earlier.

“The higher volumes support our expectations that there has been some expansion in pig numbers available,” AHDB analyst Bethan Wilkins said.

“Currently, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are challenging processing and this seems to be leading to a backlog of pigs held on farm. Expansion in pig numbers compared to previous years may have accentuated this difficulty.

“Of course, if pigs are being kept on farm for longer, this will increase feed requirements and may account for some rise in pig feed demand going forward. Some producers are reportedly now using ‘holding diets’ in an attempt to slow pig growth.

Pig feed costs have been rising recently and this will be increasingly limiting profitability for pig producers.

Between July and October, use of barley across compound animal feed overall was 27% higher than last year, reflecting increased price competitiveness relative to wheat, usage of which was down 12% on 2019.

All the other cereals covered saw higher usage than last year, although use of most oilseed meals/cakes across animal feeds was lower than last year, with the exception of oilseed rape meal/cake (+1%).

Overall production of animal feed, including integrated poultry units, was 1% up on July-October last year, at 4.46 million tonnes.

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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.