CHINA, Beijing. The sow herd in China increased again in April. The number of pigs slaughtered was 41% higher than a year earlier.
According to Beijing's Ministry of Agriculture, the number of sows increased 1.1% in April from the previous month, marking the 19th consecutive month of growth. Year-on-year, the sow herd is said to have been 23% larger. However, the ministry did not provide more specific information on this. Based on the number of sows reported for the end of March, the herd should have increased by about 475,000 head to 43.65 million sows. According to the ministry's livestock expert Xin Guochang, with an average of 16 piglets raised, the current sow population could produce a good 690 million slaughter pigs a year, only slightly below the level of 2017, the year before the outbreak of African swine fever (ASF). He pointed out that further herd recovery and productivity progress can be expected.
According to Xin, the number of large pig farms in China has increased from 161,000 to 180,000 enterprises since the beginning of the year, with 58.8% more piglets born there recently than last year. This is also due to the fact that unproductive sows are gradually being removed from the herd and replaced by more productive animals. In the country's large slaughterhouses, the number of pigs slaughtered in April was 41% higher than in the same month last year, at 18 million head, he said. The ministry estimates that the total slaughter volume from May to July is likely to be about 50% higher than the same period last year.
According to Xin, the increase in production is also necessary as pork consumption is rising while prices are falling. However, according to the expert, as prices have softened, so has the profitability of pig fattening, especially as production costs have risen due to biosecurity measures and more expensive feed. While these were around CNY 12.50 (€ 1.60) per kg of live weight before the outbreak of ASF, they now average around CNY 17 per kilo (€ 2.17). The national average price for slaughter pigs beginning of the week, Monday, was CNY 18.63 per kilo (€ 2.38), about a third less than exactly a year ago.