UK pig herd holds steady in December

Thursday, 8 April 2021

By Bronwyn Magee

According to Defra, UK pig numbers totalled 4.8 million head on the 1 December. This is relatively steady on year earlier levels, increasing by just 0.3% (17,000 head). This follows an increase in pig numbers in December last year and is the largest December pig herd since 2004.

Fattening pig numbers held steady on the year (+0.3%), with pigs under 20kg accounting for most of this increase (12,000 head), while those between 20kg and 80kg held relatively steady. Those over 110kg also lifted (5%), continuing the trend we’ve seen over the past year.

The female breeding herd was reported as stable, increasing just 0.3% on last year to stand at 406,000 head. However, this reflects an unusually large decline (10%) in the number of ‘other sows’, which are classed as suckling/dry sows, whereas the number of in pig sows actually lifted by 3% (8,000 head) on the same point last year.  

While pig census results should always be treated with caution, as trends are not always reflected in slaughter levels, we believe there was a small increase in the female breeding herd in 2020, as outlined in our latest market outlook. This is supported by an increase an increase in the production of pig breeding feed seen towards the end of the year.

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