POST Online Media Lite Edition


Number of pigs in England decreased by 12%

Christian Fernsby |
The number of cattle and calves in England has decreased by 0.5% between 2022 and 2023 and now stands at just under 5.1 million animals.

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The breeding herd has decreased slightly, falling by 1.8% to 1.7 million animals in 2023 but continues to account for just over a third of the overall total number of cattle in England.

Within this, the dairy herd fell by 0.7% and now stands at just under 1.1 million animals, accounting for just under two thirds of the breeding herd. The beef herd has also decreased, falling by 3.6% to 627 thousand animals.

The number of pigs in England has decreased by 12% to 3.6 million in 2023, the lowest since 2011, driven by a 13% fall in the number of fattening pigs.

The backlog of pigs seen in 2022 led to a sharp fall in breeding herd numbers. Numbers in 2023 have fallen by a much smaller amount, with the overall number of breeding pigs stabilising at 329 thousand head.

The female breeding herd which accounts for 78% of breeding pigs fell by 1.5% to 257 thousand head. Decreases were seen across all other breeding categories, except for gilts in pig, which saw an increase of 8.9% to 31 thousand head.

Fattening pigs account for 91% of all pigs and stood at 3.3 million in 2023, This was a decrease of 13% when compared with 2022 and is the lowest it has been in the past 10 years.

Decreases were largely seen at smaller producer level and are likely due to the industry only now seeing the full extent from the backlog of pigs in 2022, coupled with higher production costs and some easing in domestic demand.

The fall in pig numbers is supported by the reductions seen in slaughterings during 2023.

The number of sheep and lambs in England has decreased by 3.2%, to just under 14.5 million in 2023, a likely reaction to the increase in input costs and continues the overall downward trend in flock size seen in recent years.

Lambs account for just under half of all sheep and decreased by 4.9% to 7.1 million. The female breeding flock accounts for a further 48% of all sheep and also saw a decrease in 2023, falling by 1.6% to just under 7.0 million sheep.

The number of poultry in England has decreased by 6.0% to 131 million in 2023. The impact of avian influenza and the higher input costs faced by commercial poultry sectors have likely led to the reduction in numbers in 2023.

The overall fall in numbers is largely due to a 6.4% fall to 91.1 million in the number of table chickens (broilers), which account for 70% of all poultry. The number of breeding and laying fowl showed a smaller decrease, dropping by 1.1% to 32.2 million.

The number of turkeys has decreased by around a third to 2.4 million birds. High culling due to avian influenza in 2022 and other potential factors such as increased input costs and customer preferences may have led to the fall in number.

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