Large increase in Scottish pig numbers recorded

Thursday, 15 October 2020

By Bethan Wilkins

According to the latest figures published by the Scottish Government, the pig population in June totalled 337,000 head. This was 6% higher compared with the same time last year.

This was largely the result of a 7% increase in the number of pigs for fattening. However, at the same time, the total breeding herd apparently declined by 1% to 35,900 head. If both of these statistics are accurate, this suggests a large increase in herd performance. GB Agrosoft data for Q2 2020 only suggests a 1% improvement in herd performance, compared to Q2 2019. As with the England census, it is important to treat the year-on-year changes in these census results with caution.

Sows in-pig fell by 1% and other (mainly lactating) sows were also down by 5%. Pregnant gilt numbers increased by 5% but this was more than eclipsed by an 11% decline in maiden gilts. So, these results don’t indicate that Scottish farmers are looking to increase production in the near future. While it is difficult to draw too many conclusions from the census data, producer confidence has certainly been tested since the survey was undertaken with both the pig and feed markets looking more challenging.

Anecdotally, we have heard reports of expansion underway in recent years, particularly in the outdoor sector. The past year has been profitable for pig production due to the global pork shortage triggered by China’s ASF outbreak, though the situation is now becoming more challenging.

Bethan Wilkins

Senior Analyst - Red Meat

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