As some slaughterhouses reduce their weekly kills, stocking densities increase in finishing pens.

“While maximizing sale weights increases the return on a pig, considerable numbers of over-weights are being seen on some farms,” says Paul Thompson, veterinary consultant to the UK-based pig-breeding company ACMC Ltd.

Even when pigs gain more weight by spending additional time in finishing pens, the practice can cause problems, he explains, because higher stocking density can reduce daily liveweight gain and lead to more disease.

Thompson suggests that farmers consider short-term alternative accommodations or accepting a lower price on a percentage of pigs in order to clear the backlog and ensure that remaining pigs grow efficiently.