Stability in the Danish pig herd

Monday, 23 August 2021

By Bethan Wilkins

As at 1 July 2021, the Danish pig herd was a similar size to last year, at 13.17 million head. However, the breeding herd was in growth, increasing by 2% to 1.29 million head. This is now the second consecutive year of breeding herd growth for the Danish pig industry.

Overall, growth in the breeding herd was offset by a 2% fall in the number of slaughter pigs over 50kg. The number recorded at this time last year was exceptionally high, perhaps influenced by Covid-related disruption. At 3.05 million, the number recorded this year is still the second highest since July 2014.

The increase in the breeding herd looks set to continue in the coming months, with the number of maiden gilts retained for breeding 4% higher than a year earlier. A similar rise was also recorded in the April census, and we can see this reflected in the number of in-pig gilts. Nonetheless, growth doesn’t seem to be transferring at the same rate through to overall breeding herd numbers, suggesting sow culling rates are also higher than normal. Some large continental sow plants faced disruption due to Covid last year, which may mean some producers have more older sows to cull this year.

On the whole, these census results point towards ongoing strength in Danish pig meat production. Denmark is a key supplier to the UK, so increased pig meat availability there will support competition from the continent on our domestic market in the coming months.

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