Crippling costs threaten 15,000-sow cull in Irish pig herd
Rising feed costs and inadequate factory prices are costing pig farmers a staggering €900,000 per week.
Up to 15,000 sows could be lost from the national pig herd in the coming months as pig farmers struggle to survive, industry experts have warned. This would equate to a 10pc cut in the national sow herd.
Pig farmers were hit with a €25/t increase in the cost of feed from January 1, with a further €10-15/t rise being mooted for March.
IFA pig chairman Tim Cullinan said pig farmers were losing €15 on every pig produced at the moment.
"We are being paid 138c/kg on an 80kg pig so we receive €110 per pig," he said. "But feed costs €90 per pig and other costs, such as labour, amount to €35 per pig, bringing the cost per pig to €125."
Mr Cullinan pointed out that Irish producers have the highest feed costs in Europe but pig prices here are at only 92-93pc of average European returns.
He insisted that higher factory prices were essential to the survival of pig units and accused processors of allowing the premium for Irish pigmeat to slip away.
"The IFA secured agreements with Tesco and SuperValu to pay 12c/kg and 10c/kg extra on Irish pigmeat purchases in December," he said. "If a group of farmers can do that, why couldn't the factories have done it?"