The EU pig breeding herd is down by more than 4 percent in, according to a pig census of 19 countries taken in November and December 2012 by Eurostat. The census revealed a smaller decline in sows and gilts, 3.5 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively. 

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However, maiden gilt numbers were down 5 percent, suggesting no recovery in EU pig herd numbers is imminent. Only Slovakia, recorded an increase in its pig breeding herd, while the Czech pig herd was stable. In the other EU countries, declines ranged from 1 percent in Denmark to 21 percent in Slovenia.

The figures also show that the overall pig herd in the 19 countries was down by nearly 2 percent. The fall would have been even larger, but for changes in the methodology of the German census which significantly increased the number of pigs recorded. Other than Germany, only a few smaller pig producers recorded increased herd numbers. 

Meanwhile, three eastern member states, including Poland, recorded double-digit percentage falls. The contraction in the EU herd confirms that pig meat is likely to be tight through 2013, particularly in the second half of the year.