Weaning of British pigs behind the rest of the EU
Published:  13 January, 2016

The number of British pigs being weaned per sow per year is behind the level in the rest of Europe, revealed AHDB Pork’s latest cost of production report. 

Although the number increased 2% per sow to 24.09 overall in 2014 compared to 2013, it still remained behind that of the rest of the continent. Other European countries also averaged a 2% rise from 26.06 of pigs weaned per sow per year in 2013 compared to 26.53. For the second time, Denmark achieved 30.0 pigs per sow.

Meanwhile, indoor sow production in Great Britain rose 3% compared to 2013, to 25.7.

According to the levy board, the main reason that Great Britain remains behind the rest of the continent in terms of pigs weaned per sow is down to the number of pigs born alive per litter being below the EU average of 13.2. The British average in 2014 was 12.1, compared to a 13.2 average in the rest of the EU.

“The areas where GB is falling behind its counterparts are those where the AHDB Pork KT [knowledge transfer] team is focusing to help businesses close the production gap,” said AHDB Pork Knowledge transfer lead Steve Winfield.

Also discussed within the report were the lower food prices, which fell by an average of 16% across EU countries in 2014 compared to 2013.

As a whole, EU feed costs per kg fell 17% in 2014 compared with a year earlier, in terms of sterling. Britain experienced one of the biggest drops at 19%.

It was reported that Britain produced an average of 1.82 tonnes (t) of carcase meat per sow in 2014, a 3% rise on the previous year. This is attributed to a combination of the increase in the number of pigs finished per sow alongside an increase in finishing weight.

Furthermore, the report indicated that the cost of production fell by almost 16% in 2014 to £1.39/kg.

At £1.34/kg deadweight, the rest of Europe experienced a 14% decrease in sterling terms in 2014 compared to a year prior.

“The three main areas are achieving +1 pig weaned, increase FCR [feed conversion ratio] by 0.1 and ALDWG [average daily liveweight gain] by 50g/day with the overall aim of selling more pigs more efficiently,” continued Winfield. “Within the team we have a range of services available to help businesses, delivered by our managers, who all have significant experience in the industry.

“Our on-farm reviews are our most popular service, often described as a fresh set of eyes to look at the business. These reviews are obviously aimed at highlighting ways to improve performance.

“While we all focus on ensuring we get as many pigs sold as we can, we should pay some attention to the fact that we are still just over a pig born below the EU average. Clearly we have a range of systems and genetics and, often, performance can be improved by better management practices.”

The full report is available to download here.