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Latest Defra figures show throughputs remain suppressed

18th Mar 2024 / By Alistair Driver

The latest Defra UK slaughter statistics show UK pig throughputs remain well down on year-earlier levels. 

February UK clean pig slaughterings were down 1.4% on February 2023 at 766,000 head, although pigmeat production was 0.8% up year-on-year at 72,000 tonnes, due to higher carcase weights.

Feb UK slaughterThe February slaughter figure was down from 830,000 head in January. Given the differing lengths of the two months, the average weekly kill is a better indication of trends. The February figure of 185,000 head per week was 2,000 below January and 9,000 (nearly 5%) below the February 2023 weekly average.

Carcase weights averaged 90.6kg during February, fractionally down on January, but well up on February 2023, pushing overall production above year-earlier levels by close to 1%.

Sow and boar slaughter numbers, at 18,000, were 17% up on February 2023 levels.

The trend is continuing in March. Estimated GB slaughterings for the week ended March 9 dropped back by more than 5,000 on the previous week to below 153,000, 8,000 below the 2023 figure for the week and 16,000 down on the same week 2022. 

During the NPA’s latest Pig Industry Group meeting last week, producers said higher prices, combined with lower feed costs, had bolstered confidence.

However, there were reports that the relentless wet weather, allied with some disease issues, have affected sow fertility and productivity generally, particularly on the outdoor side. This appears to be compounding the impact of the contraction of the breeding herd.