The latest census data reveal a continuing contraction in the pig industries of Germany and Denmark, which are among the European Union’s top pork-producing states.

Danish sow herd drops below 1 million

For the first time, the number of sows in Denmark has fallen below one million, continuing a decline over the last several years, according to figures from Statistics Denmark. The latest count, for the third quarter of 2016, puts the Danish sow herd at 998,000. That amounts to 3.2 percent fewer sows than 3 months previously. Over recent years, sow numbers have remained fairly steady at between 1.023 million and 1.046 million for several years until the final quarter of 2015, when a slow decline began.

The Statistics Denmark data show a fall in the population of pigs in all age categories. The total population fell by just over 0.8 percent from 12.42 million in the previous quarter to 12.31 million.

Compared with the same period in 2015, there were fewer growing pigs in Denmark in June this year:

  • Piglets - 2.460 million; down 5.9 percent
  • Weaned pigs under 50kg (110 pounds) - 5.718 million; down1.0 percent
  • Finishing pigs over 50kg (110 pounds) - 2.903 million; down 2.9 percent

Smallest pig population in Germany for five years


German federal statistics agency, Destatis, put the German total pig population in early May this year at 27.1 million. This is 3.7 percent, or slightly more than one million animals, below the previous year. The latest number is also down by almost 600,000 animals or 2.2 percent from November, which was the lowest recorded in Germany for 5 years.

Compared to May of 2015, there were declines in the number of premises with pigs, i.e. those with at least 50 fattening pigs and/or 10 breeding sows, and in all age categories.

The number of farms with pigs stood at 24,500, a reduction of 1,400 or 5.4 percent from the previous year. There were 9.4 percent or 8,900 fewer farms with sows.

Breeding sow numbers suffered the largest one-year decline in percentage terms, down 5.6 percent to just over 1.91 million. There was a 5.5 percent contraction in the overall breeding herd.

For the younger animals, the counts and changes were:

  • Piglets - 8.078 million; down 2.6 percent
  • Growers - 5.319 million; down 5.1 percent
  • Finishers (11.726 million; down 3.6 percent

The falls were blamed on miserable returns for the sector, combined with poor prospects for the future of pig farming in terms of improving profitability or farm succession, by Germany’s swine producers’ association, Interessengemeinschaft der Schweinehalter Deutschlands e.V. (ISN).