UK feed production on lowest level in 8 years

Photo: Canva
Photo: Canva

In the second half of 2023, animal feed production in the UK amounted to almost 5.48 thousand tonnes, 2.7% lower y-o-y. At the same time, Integrated poultry units (IPU’s) was 8.8% higher at over 1.23 thousand tonnes. Total animal feed production including IPU’s was 0.9% lower than in the same period in 2022 and at the lowest level since 2015/16, levy board AHDB reports.

UK pig population hits historic low

Pig feed production totalled 962.8 Kt, down 3.7% compared to a year ago. The British pig population last year reached an historic low. The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) reported that the overall pig population in the UK declined by more than 10% between June 2022 and the same month last year.

The number of finishers in June 2023 was down by 11.2% to 4.26 million head, the lowest number recorded since 2015. Those figures from the annual agricultural census reflect 2022’s UK breeding herd contraction on the back of the 2-year industry crisis and the impacts on fertility of the summer 2022 heatwave, the National Pig Association said earlier. While cautious optimism remains in the pig industry, historically high costs of production continue to hinder any significant rebound, AHDB adds.

Rising cost impact cattle feed demand

Elevated costs are also continuing to impact cattle feed demand. Cattle and calf feed production in the period July to December 2023 was 1.98 thousand tonnes, down 1.4% on the year before. The total number of cattle and calves in the UK was just under 9.6 million in June 2023, a modest decline of 0.8% on the year before, the annual Defra census shows. The breeding herd saw a decrease of 1.9% and now stood at 3.2 million.

UK sheep population down but still largest in Europe

UK sheep feed production was down 12.6% or 36.2 Kt. This decline was largely down to losses in compounds for growing and finishing sheep, down 15% on the year. As we continue through the winter, focus will now shift to ewe feed, AHDB explains. Defra census figures recorded the UK sheep flock at 31.8 million head as of 1 June 2023, down 4.1% on the previous year. This is the lowest recorded population since 2011. The female breeding flock totalled 15.4 million head, a 2.4% decline compared to 2022. However, the UK still is home to by far the largest sheep population in Europe.

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Ruud Peijs International Journalist