Welsh pig herd struggling

A meat promotion company in Wales has revealed shocking figures showing a declining pig herd.

According to Meat Hybu Cig Cymru – Promotion Company Wales (HCC), the number of pigs in Wales has more than halved in a decade, due to the rising costs of production.

On average it costs around 169p/kg to produce a pig, but deadweight prices for September only hit 154.8p/kg. And although this is 9p higher than the same time last year, HCC said it was not enough to support producers.

Industry information officer for HCC John Richards explained that a major cause of the problem was due to the price of feed, which he said was “estimated to account for up to 60% of the total figure” of the pig.

Heightened production costs also saw the Welsh pig herd decline by 4% in the year ending December 2011, leaving it stand at 25,600 animals. Richards said: “This is less than half the number in 2000, when there were 65,200 pigs in Wales.”

Also, the total number of pigs that passed through Welsh abattoirs this August was 2,700, which was the third month of decline in a row and 14% down year-on-year. In the first eight months of 2012, 23,100 pigs went to slaughter in Wales, which is 1% down on last year.

Tight supplies from the EU to Britain through August and September this year led to a rise in British pork prices against the normal seasonal trend. By the week ending 29 September the price had reached 154.8p/kg, which was more than 9p up on the previous year.

Richards added: “As in July, the average carcase weight increased marginally at a time of year when weights normally increase. At 77.9kg, the average carcase weight in August was fractionally higher than the July average, but 1.3kg lower than in August 2011.

“This is probably as a result of producers marketing their pigs earlier than usual as they struggled to break even, due to rising production costs.”

Related news:

>Welsh red meat gets £850,000 ad campaign

>Welsh red meat exports from Wales hit £240k mark

>Wales looks beyond UK borders