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Pig numbers in England reported as lowest in a decade

The latest figures from Defra have revealed total pig numbers in England have fallen by half a million this year, hitting the lowest levels seen since 2011 at 3.63 million head.

As of 1st June 2023, the pig population in England is reportedly down 11.6% year-on-year, which his likely to come as little surprise to producers who have been grappling with negative margins for ten consecutive quarters.

The drop in the total pig population has been driven by a substantial fall in the numbers of fattening pigs, which are at the lowest number since 2012, at 3.30million head.

On the other hand, the breeding pig population has remained level in 2023, with numbers coming in at 329,000 head. Within the category, the female breeding herd saw a relatively small decline of only 1.5% (4,000 head), with sows in pig down 3.0% year-on-year but gilts in pig up 8.99%.

Meanwhile, boars being used for service recorded larger declines and are down 6.9% on the previous year, however, the number of gilts intended for first time breeding is up by 8.3%, giving some scope for optimism.

These latest trends in breeding pig numbers, particularly the increase of gilts in pig and the number of gilts intended for first time breeding, show signs of a more positive industry sentiment and producers slowly beginning to recover from financial difficulties.

While ADHB is not expecting pig numbers, throughputs and production to bounce back to the heights of 2021, as long as consumer demand remains consistent and net margins for producers continue on a positive track, some welcome growth is anticipated.

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