German herd stable overall but fewer sows

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

There were nearly 26 million pigs in Germany on 3 November 2020, largely unchanged from the same point in 2019, according to latest figures from the Federal Office of Statistics.

A rise in the number of slaughter pigs outweighed continued contraction in both the female breeding herd and in numbers of weaner pigs. As at 3 November, the breeding herd stood at 1.7 million head, down 5% on the year before.

The female breeding herd, and indeed the overall German pig population, has been contracting for some time. Increasingly stringent welfare and environmental regulations are causing more producers to exit the industry. The number of pig holdings, which fell by 3.3% during the year to 20,500, reflects this.

Despite the contraction of the breeding herd, piglet numbers remained stable at 7.7 million head, suggesting an improvement in productivity. Weaner numbers remained lower though.

The numbers of slaughter pigs likely reflect the German ASF/trade ban situation, as well as reported disruption to domestic supply chains due to COVID-19. Both these factors are contributing to a surplus of finisher pigs in the country, which is weighing on European pig prices more widely. Slaughter reportedly picked up before the festive period, but reports suggest a lack of capacity remains and backlogs are large.

Hannah Clarke

Analyst - Livestock

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