Pig farming is not economically sustainable at current price levels – Teagasc

This year has been one of the most difficult years in pig production, according to Teagasc’s Gerard McCutcheon.

According to the Teagasc Pig Development Officer, the difficulty is as a result of continued high feed costs while the price paid for pigmeat has remained relatively low.

Feed costs look like they will average 111c/kg deadweight while the average price is expected to be 148c/kg deadweight leaving just 37c/kg to pay non-feed costs, he said.

As a result, he said that the margin over feed costs has not exceeded 50c/kg since 2009 with the average margin between 2009 to 2014 sitting at 44c/kg deadweight, and this is not economically sustainable.

Pig farmers must understand performance and production costs

Pig farmers must understand both farm performance and production costs to give themselves the best opportunity to improve farm efficiencies and finances, according to McCutcheon.

Furthermore, he said that most pig units have a good understanding of feed costs which can easily be assessed in relation to production/efficiency.

However, he added that there are two key efficiency parameters that pig farmers should utilise to improve the efficiency of the pig farming enterprise.

  • kg of pig meat/sow/year –  calculated by multiplying the number of Pigs Produced/Sow/Year by the Average Dead Weight.
  • tonnes of feed/sow/year – calculated by adding the total tonnes of all feed used in the year and dividing it by the average sow herd size.

However, he also said that it is important to look at the whole picture and understand the non-feed costs.

He added that the number of farmers recording non-feed costs with the Teagasc PigSy system is lower than it than it could be.

McCutcheon added that it is now more critical than ever to compile and analyse non-feed costs to full access the financial performance of the unit.