Pig Focus NOVEMBER 2018 www.irishfarmersmonthly.com Pig producers waiting for an ill wind the most pig-populous county with 18.5 per cent of the total pig population located in the county. Cork, in second place, has 17.5 per cent and Tipperary is next with 11.1 per cent of the Irish pig herd. Pig farmers are currently losing between €8 and €10 per finished pig. The price has dropped dramatically in the last twelve months and meal prices have risen by up to €70/t. This is the classic price/ cost squeeze that regularly impacts on the pig sector. Hopes of an improvement in pig prices early next year are based on serious outbreaks of African Swine Fever (ASF) in China, as Matt O’ Keeffe found out when he spoke to a leading spokesman for the Irish pig sector recently. The ASF outbreak will lead to a downturn in pig production in those regions and a requirement for increased imports of pigmeat. That’s the assessment of Tom Hogan, the IFA’s Pig committee chairman, who recognises that price improvement based on someone else’s misfortune is not the best way to improve profitability, but that is often the reality of commerce. Elected as chairman two years ago, Tom farms in Anglesboro Co. Limerick, together with his son Niall. He is married to Maureen and has two daughters, Isabelle and Louise. He had already served four years on the Committee and had been a keen contributor to the Committee’s DNA Subgroup, before his election as IFA Pig chairman in late 2016. Cost increases At an average price currently of €1.41 per kilo and production costs running at close to €1.60, the losses on pig farms are mounting up every day, as Tom Hogan explains: “Feed costs have gone up between €50 and €70 per tonne depending on whether a farmer is home milling or buying in ration fom compounders. Every ten euros per tonne increase is equivalent to four cents extra onto feed costs.” It has been a long price trough, even by pig production standards, Tom added: “It has been 12 months since the sector was in profit. Prices have hovered around €1.42 since last January, with another four cent price drop in July. That four cents has been made up since then but the A consolidated sector Just 47 pig farms now account for 45 per cent of total pig production in this country, according to figures from DAFF. The average pig herd in Ireland is touching 900 pigs. This compares with an average herd size of 776 pigs in 2015. However, only 47 pig herds have in excess of 10,000 pigs. The pig population in four Irish counties exceeds 100,000 animals. Cavan has overtaken Cork as 30