UK pig numbers at highest level since 2004 following marginal growth in 2020

UK pig numbers totalled 4.8 million head on December 1, following marginal growth over the previous 12 months, to stand at its highest level since December 2004.

Defra figures show the pig herd was relatively steady on year earlier levels, increasing by just 0.3% (17,000 head). This follows an increase in pig numbers in December last year.

Fattening pig numbers held steady on the year (+0.3%), with pigs under 20kg accounting for most of this increase (12,000 head), while those between 20kg and 80kg held relatively steady. Pigs over 110kg increased by (5%), continuing the trend of the past year.

The female breeding herd was reported as stable, increasing just 0.3% on last year to stand at 406,000 head. However, this reflects an unusually large decline (10%) in the number of ‘other sows’, which are classed as suckling/dry sows, whereas the number of in pig sows actually lifted by 3% (8,000 head) on the same point last year, AHDB’s Bronwyn Magee said.

“While pig census results should always be treated with caution, as trends are not always reflected in slaughter levels, we believe there was a small increase in the female breeding herd in 2020, as outlined in our latest market outlook,” she added.

“This is supported by an increase an increase in the production of pig breeding feed seen towards the end of the year.”

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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.