Since the end of October last year average pig slaughter weights have been rising steadily, hitting 95 kg during the week ending January 8, 2022. This is about 5kg above the long term average. This is due to abattoirs refusing to take all the pigs they contracted for at the beginning of the breeding cycle. Processors face a shortage of skilled labour in the killing lines and boning halls, with the result that pigs being held back on farms.
Here, they are eating feed that was not costed into the business and since UK male pigs are not routinely castrated, they are increasingly likely to pass puberty and be affected by boar taint with the onset of breeding condition. This renders them unsaleable and inedible.
The weight of a pig at slaughter is critical to its commercial value, since overweight pigs put on fat in the muscle tissue and their conformation is no good for retail or foodservice clients.
A week later and no sign of any change.
British pig prices dropped even further in the week ending January 15. The Standard Pig Price (SPP) dropped to 139p/kg, the lowest it has been for almost a year. Pig producers are still looking after pigs that should have left their holding long ago, as the average carcase weight set a new record at 95.42kg (source AHDB). Since these animals would normally have left for slaughter, farmers are having to buy grain on the spot market, pushing feed prices up in the process.