Defra December census results and pig backlog monitoring

Thursday, 24 March 2022

In addition to its December census survey results, Defra has also released some supplementary detail on the number of pigs overdue for movement on 1 February.


In December 2021 in England there were:

  •  295 thousand pigs in the female breeding herd, a decrease of almost 7% (22 thousand) since December 2020. This decrease was driven by a 14% fall in the number of sows in pig but offset slightly by a 24% rise in the number of dry or suckled sows being kept for further breeding.
  • 80 thousand gilts for breeding, a 6.4% increase from 75 thousand in December 2020. This may indicate a possible increase to the breeding herd in the future.
  • 7 million fattening pigs, an increase of 11% since December 2020 and the largest December population for almost 20 years. Piglets/suckling pigs account for almost 20% of fattening pigs, weaners weighing up to 29kg account for another 20% and fattening pigs weighing over 29kg make up the majority (60%).
  • 1 million total pigs, an increase of 9.0% since December 2020.


From the supplementary information concerning the backlog:

  • 22% of pig farms in England reported having a backlog of pigs on farm on 1 February 2022, compared to 25% on 1 December 2021.
  • On 1 February 2021 this backlog equates to 47 thousand weaners overdue movement and 155 thousand fatteners overdue for slaughter when raised to a national scale using the December 2021 pig population.
  • This is a reduction from 73 thousand weaners and 168 thousand fatteners reported overdue movement or slaughter on 1 December 2021.
  • 2% of pig farms in England reported the premature culling of pigs on farm during December 2021 and January 2022. This is unchanged from October and November 2021.


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