Latest figures from the British Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) shows the British pig industry is holding its breath waiting to see which way the markets will go, according to the British Pig Executive (BPEX).
The census figures, from June, have just been published and show the overall breeding herd up 2.3% while sows in pig are more or less static. However gilts in pig are up just over 8%.
Senior Analyst Stephen Howarth of AHDB Market Intelligence said estimates showed cull sow figures were up 13%.
Stephen said: “Putting those two together would indicate people are culling their less productive sows and replacing them to maximise the productivity of the herd but they are not, at the moment, increasing or cutting breeding herd size.”
BPEX Head of Communications and Supply Chain Development Andrew Knowles said: “We have a standstill position at the moment as the industry holds its breath before deciding which route to follow.
“It would seem everybody is scrutinising their herd performance very closely to maximise herd productivity and that is reflected in the figures for replacements.
“These figures also show the position in June and I believe many producers would have been holding their breath to see if the very high feed prices dropped following harvest which might signal a return to profitability and what direction pig prices would take in the autumn.
“January is traditionally the time of year when producers review their business and start to make medium and long-term decisions.
“They now have a clearer view on global feed prices which indicate a cost of production around 160 pence (€1.83) per kg it is the returns from the pig meat supply chain that remain the unknown.”
• British Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra)
• British Pig Executive (BPEX)