Our Organisation Search
Quick Links
Toggle: Topics

Brighter days ahead

Brighter days ahead

The last 18 months have been cited as the worst period in living memory for Ireland's pig farmers, Micheal McKeon, Teagasc Pig Specialist, spoke with Helen on this week's episode of Ear to the Ground to discuss the future for the sector.

Over the past 18 months the average pig farmer has amassed over €600,000 in debt. The question now facing those farmers is how much longer they can keep going?

Roy Gaille is chairman of the IFA National Pig Committee, he farms in Broadford, Co. Kildare. He has 180 sows, 2,000 animals in total, which is about one third the size of an average pig farm in Ireland.

The number of piglets beig produced across the world is one of the reasons that's causing problems for the sector. Roy tells Helen: "The average litter size is about 17, it has grown enormously over the last five or six years, and this compounds the problem.If every sow in Europe is producing four or five more pigs per sow, it's not long before you get into an oversupply situation." 

Pig farming, like every business, has seen energy costs soar, but the price of feed has presented the greatest challenge. Half of the pig feed ingrediants used here are imported, leaving the industry very exposed to international pressures. Prices had been increasing already before the Russain invasion of Ukraine, but have since reached historic highs. 

Michael McKeon, Teagasc Pig Specialist, tells Helen: "The pig price has moved, but for a number of months it hadn't moved fast enough and, as we stand at the moment, it still isn't high enough to get into a profitable situation. So the average unit at the moment is losing about €25,000 a month. It is improving, but it's still at a serious loss every month." 

"The retail price will probably need to go up by 10% and that needs to be passed down to the pig producer.  Even if that happens, it's going to take the next 18 to 24 months to try and recoup some of those losses," he explained.

"Because of the low price and the loss making across Europe, the number of pigs being produced has obviously fallen, so there is going to be a scarcity of pigmeat in the next couple of months and that is going to push up the price."

"The feed ingredient price is falling at the moment on a global scale, and that hopefully will be passed on to the pig producers in the next couple of weeks," he added.

Watch the full episode of Ear to the Ground on RTE Player