How numbers are changing
Inventory reports show a reduction in pig numbers on both sides of the Atlantic.
Inventory reports from both sides of the Atlantic are pointing to recent reductions in the number of breeding pigs, even if there has been some easing of pressure on producers as pig prices improve and feed ingredient prices stabilise. In Europe, for example, data compiled by Eurostat from April 2008 national surveys had included an indication that sow/gilt numbers were down by 9.8% in Denmark and by 8.6% in Spain - the country that is second only to Germany for size as a European Union member state. European Market Review from AHDB Meat Services in the UK also notes that the April Spanish total of 2.53 million sows was 5% less than in December 2007. Denmark's approximately 1.3 million sows and gilts in 2008 compared with 1.44 million in April 2007.
The national herd of 1.07 million sows in the Netherlands in April this year meant a 6.6% reduction from a year earlier. Analysts also warned that a 4.8% fall in the number of pregnant and maiden gilts on Dutch units was signaling a further contraction in breeding inventory. From provisional counts it seems that although slaughterings in the Netherlands were up 6% in the first 6 months of 2008, a slowdown in the second half of the year looks probable.
Total sow and gilt numbers in Poland at the start of April were reported to be 20% below the level of the year before. At 1.46 million, they also represented a 10% cutback of pig breeding inventory in Poland since November 2007. Forecasts in the Polish press that up to 150 000 producers will quit the business during the current crisis have been compared by European Market Review with a December 2005 survey finding that the highly fragmented national pig sector contained over 580 000 units at that time, with only 46% of them having more than 100 pigs each.
Hungary has said the 12 months to April 2008 saw a 3% decrease in privately owned pig units alongside a 17% reduction of animal numbers on such enterprises. This was while the number of sows nationally was falling 9% to about 285 000.
June 2008 statistics from the US department of agriculture have shown the pig breeding population down by 0.8% to 6.07 million, even though total pigs registered a further increase of 5.8% to reach 67.66 million. USDA said American producers intended farrowing 3.07 million sows in the June-August 2008 period, down 2% from the same period in 2007. Intended farrowings for September-November 2008 were 3.05 million sows or down by 4%.