It is set-up day at the EuroTier 2010 international livestock exhibition in Hannover, Germany, and there are signs that this will be a busy show. At the last event, in 2008, a total of 130,000 visitors included over 22,000 people from abroad, representing 80 countries, while the 1,700 exhibitors came from 46 countries.

Organizers DLG have issued the results of a survey of farmers in six European countries indicating that economic conditions have generally improved for livestock farms across Europe during 2010. Pig prices have increased slightly in most parts of the European Union (EU) over the past week. Price data compiled by the European Commission showed an average of 137.09 Euros per 100 kilograms carcass weight for slaughter pigs in the 27-country EU, which was up marginally from the previous week and 4.1% above the EU-27 average for the comparable week in 2009.

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Germany’s price of 143.09 Euros meant an increase of almost 1% in a week, to a level about 5.7% higher than German producers were receiving 12 months earlier. Unfortunately, increased feed costs have prevented any improvement in producer profit margins.

There are also concerns in many parts of the EU about the additional investment that breeding herds will be forced to make in order to comply with new animal welfare laws that require pregnant sows to be housed in groups instead of in individual stalls. Some pig industries in Europe still keep two-thirds of their sows in single stalls. Their representatives have called for an extension of the January 2013 deadline by which gestation housing must be changed, but an EU decision to allow more time looks increasingly unlikely.