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NPA confirms that culling has started in small numbers

6th Oct 2021 / By Alistair Driver

The NPA is aware that culling has started on a handful of farms, with fears this could become more widespread unless solutions are found. 

Pigs 2021NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: "We know of a handful of farmers who have had to cull some pigs - around 600 we are aware of in total. 

"There has been no mass culling yet – although I do believe this is the next stage in the process.  As you can imagine this is hugely difficult for the farmers involved and to date none are willing to speak to the press about it."

Some farmers are choosing to to use knackermen, as they just can’t bear to do it themselves and don't want ask their staff to do it.

NPA chairman Rob Mutimer added: “There are now producers actively euthanising piglets - they have run out of room. They are tending to euthanise the younger ones and get the older ones away as they can.”

The fear is, with some farmers getting pigs rolled at a rate of 25-30% per week and contingency plans exhausted, the pressure will build, requiring a large-scale welfare cull. 

Processors have stressed that they are operating at the maximum capacity that staff numbers allow and, in some cases, they have taken steps to ease the backlog by putting on extra kills, albeit delivering lower returns to producers in order to keep things moving. 

Despite this, the situation is not markedly improving Mr Mutimer said, and is much worse in some supply chains than others and on some farms than others. Mr Mutimer stressed that things need to improve rapidly before the next pinch point. 

“Pigs are normally being brought forward now ahead of Christmas. We must see some improvement in all supply chains soon, otherwise we are going to head into the reduced kill at Christmas and people won’t be able to cope as they have already filled their contingency plans,” he added.

NPA calling for support

The NPA continues to seek help from Government and the supply chain to help ease the backlog, in particular: 

  • Calling for the Government to introduce temporary visas for butchers to increase capacity in pork plants, at least in the short-term. 
  • Calling for retailers to prioritise British pork over imported EU pork - amid concerns retailers are turning to cheap pork currently available in large volumes in the EU, which, in some cases is diverting essential butchery resource.