Consolidation is reported to be accelerating in the pig business globally and to have forced many backyard producers to quit. This in turn is predicted to promise extra productivity because larger farms are said to show a higher level of performance.

Why should bigger mean better? It is not necessarily true, of course. Small-scale units and family farms often can out-perform the big boys.

Where they suffer is in not enjoying the economies of scale available to the major players and in having fewer opportunities to adopt improved technologies. Most of the new production practices that have appeared in recent years have been far more suited to the larger enterprise than to small operations.

What is more, smaller farms may be limited in their ability to change because they have less chance of securing the required finance as well as being limited for management time. One recent analysis referred to this as a shortage of capital that is both financial and physical.