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Welsh Pig Numbers Fell 4% by December 2011

9 March 2012, at 1:07am

WALES, UK - After a small increase in December 2010, the number of pigs in Wales fell by four per cent by December 2011, according to the December 2011 Survey of Agriculture, by National Statistics Wales.

Over the period 2000 to 2011 as a whole, the number of pigs more than halved from 65,000 to the latest figure of just under 26,000. This continues a downward trend that has been fairly constant for the last 20 years or so. The reason for this fall is economic. Following the UK’s entry into the European Union (EU) in 1974, the pig industry in this country was faced with cheaper, imported meat from countries such as Denmark and Germany. The continuing expansion of the EU has meant that the UK market is exposed to more and more competition from overseas, particularly with the entry of Eastern European countries such as Poland.

These market forces have meant that often pig meat production is no longer viable for smaller producers. The majority of the Welsh pig population are to be found on a relatively small number of holdings. To illustrate this, almost three-quarters of the pigs in June 2011 were to be found on less than 50 holdings. The majority of the remainder of holdings with pigs would be using them for personal consumption only and/or as pets.

The breakdown of the total number of pigs shows that the vast majority are kept for fattening in order to produce meat. The number of sows that are in pig is a large proportion of the total number of breeding pigs. This would indicate that sows and gilts (sows being used for breeding for the first time) are being used for breeding throughout the year (unlike sheep, for example). Sows that are now unable to produce litters are included with the fattening pigs as this would be their only possible use to the farmer. However, in terms of producing meat, the farmer would breed pigs especially for this purpose which is why the number of barren sows is so low.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.