Thursday, 15 October 2020
By Bethan Wilkins
UK pig slaughter was only marginally up on the year in September, increasing by 10,300 head to 910,100 head overall. Considering there was an extra week day in September this year, slaughter was not particularly high in the month, confirming our previous suggestion that our estimated slaughter numbers have been high in recent weeks. These will now be revised downwards.
Throughput in England and Wales rose by 1% compared with September 2019. However, increases in other regions were larger. Scottish throughput rose by 8% and 2% more clean pigs were slaughtered in Northern Ireland.
For the third quarter overall, slaughter was 1% higher than in 2019, a smaller increase than we expected in the July Agri-Market Outlook. We will examine this in more detail in the next week or so. For the year to date, slaughter is also 1% up on 2019.
The number of sows and boars culled in September was 22,700, up 16% from the 2019 level. An increase this year is expected as slaughter was low last year, meaning the age profile of the herd will be higher. Lower than usual response rates to Defra's survey continue though, which may affect classification of animals within species compared to last year.
Clean pig carcase weights in the latest month reached 87.1kg, the highest on record. Delays to slaughter have meant extra weight has been added to animals, though there has also been an intentional move to heavier weights in recent years. Pigs in September were therefore 2.5kg heavier than in the same month in 2019.
Given the rise in slaughter combined with the increase in pig weight, pig meat production in September totalled 82,600 tonnes. This was an increase of 5% compared with the same month last year.
Year to date pig meat production now stands at 724,300 tonnes, 3% above the level last year.