German pig herd continuing to decline

Friday, 9 July 2021

By Bethan Wilkins

Provisional figures from the May pig census show that the number of pigs in Germany fell by over 3% compared to May 2020, totalling 24.6 million head. This was the lowest level in at least a decade.

The decline was particularly apparent for breeding sows and younger pigs. Breeding sows experienced the sharpest fall, of about 11%. Decline in the breeding herd is not unexpected, given that the industry is being challenged by African Swine Fever related restrictions. Welfare regulations are also changing. Ultimately, this should tighten German pig meat supplies later in the year.

German pig slaughter has already been lower this year, falling by nearly 6% for the year to 4 July. So far, it is lower live pig imports that have particularly influenced this trend. Despite lower slaughter, the latest market reports continue to say demand is equally quiet. The latest German reference price stands at €153.76/100kg. While this is €30 more than the low point in December, it is also €14 less than year earlier levels.

The effect of the breeding herd reduction followed through to a reduction in the number of young pigs and piglets, down by 4% and nearly 8% respectively. When the survey was taken, numbers of slaughter pigs were still similar to last year. Based on this, we would expect a further decline in German production levels in the latter part of the year, as fewer of their own domestic pigs are available to come forward for slaughter.

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