Malta's pig industry has become more efficient and productive since joining the European Union in 2003, due largely to genetic expansion, according to the island's producers.
The rise in productivity is allowing Malta to do more with less — the island’s breeding herd is being reduced from the 6,000–7,000 sows it has had since 2005 to just over 4,700 sows in 2011, while maintaining production of slaughter pigs at around 85,000–95,000 per year.
To facilitate growth, the Pig Breeders’ Co-operative Society, which represents the 170 pig producers on Malta and nearby Gozo, is setting up a new nucleus breeding unit on the site of the agriculture ministry’s research and development farm using genetics from British pig-breeding company ACMC Ltd. as part of its genetics program. Until now, the co-op has had to rely largely on importation of F1 hybrids and GPs together with AI to supply its members with genetics. The new nucleus will enable them to breed their own AC1 replacement gilts.
The island has also begun selling surplus live pigs, both weaners and growers, to Sicily for further fattening and use for Parma ham.