Northern Irish pig herd shows more growth than anticipated
Published:  30 November, 2016

The final results from the June Agricultural Census in Northern Ireland, delivered by the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), has suggested that the nation’s pig herd grew more than expected. This is in juxtaposition to the small Welsh herd, which declined further.

When compared to June of last year, pig numbers in Northern Ireland experienced a 6% year-on-year rise, two points more than the provisional results suggested. “This trend was driven by a 6% increase in finishing pigs, following from the growth in large, productive herds driving overall NI breeding herd expansion in 2015,” according to Bethan Wilkins, analyst at AHDB Pork.

“Some growth can also likely be attributed to cross-border imports of pigs for finishing.”

At 46,400 head, final figures showed a continued overall 2% rise in the female breeding herd, compared with 2015. In-pig sow numbers have been revised upwards, while in-pig gilt numbers have been significantly revised down. “With poor pig prices in the first half of 2016, it seems there was reluctance among producers to introduce new pigs to the breeding herd at this time,” said Wilkins.

In contrast to Northern Ireland, figures in Wales from the June survey showed that the already small herd fell by a further 8% compared to June 2015, equating to 23,200 head. Decreases were experienced in both the breeding herd and pigs for slaughter.

Although numbers have been fluctuating over the past decade between 20,000 and 30,000, this is the smallest Welsh pig herd recorded since 2009.