Irish pig farmers face average bills of at least €300,000 each in order to meet new regulations on sow housing, according to the latest Teagasc estimates.
The average Irish pig farmer with a 550-sow herd will need to spend around €300,000 to convert individual sow crates to loose housing before January 1, 2013, according to Teagasc pig expert Ciaran Carroll.
However, the conversion process will also mean that farmers will have to reduce the number of sows in their herds.
Farmers who want to maintain their sow numbers will have to invest in conversion of existing sheds and new buildings, at a cost of around €350,000-400,000 per farm.
While there is a 40pc grant available under the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS), many pig producers will struggle to secure finance from banks.
Average pig prices are running at €1.58/kg, while the breakeven price for most producers is €1.67/kg, meaning farmers are losing 9c/kg on their pigs.
A 6c/kg increase in pig price since Christmas has been totally wiped out by a €20-25/t or 8-10c/kg rise in feed costs.
A seminar outlining the sow housing conversion options will take place on Friday at the Maldorn Hotel, Portlaoise at 2pm.