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Finishing and fattening pigs for pork, bacon and ham

Traditionally farmers produced pigs to three different weights to satisfy distinct market requirements (the bacon market, the processing market and the fresh pork market). However, advances in management and breeding allow the farmer to produce a heavier and leaner pig that now satisfies most demands. Below we detail typical systems.


weaner kennelIn this picture freshly weaned pigs are housed in a "weaner kennel" with infra red lighting and straw to keep them warm. The young pigs keep the house clean and leave their muck outside (note the chewed plastic door which pigs like to gnaw at). Pigs are normally kept in houses like these when they weigh between 7 and 15 kg, (about 25 to 50 days of age).


weaner housePigs are then transferred to a "weaner house" where they are kept in larger groups on a deep litter system. There are several other housing systems for this age of pig which will weigh up to 30 kg.


suffolk piggeryAfter leaving the weaner house the pig will go to a finishing house. The one illustrated is a traditional suffolk style piggery with an activity area and an enclosed sleeping area behind the block wall. Weaner pigs will be grown on to a weight of around 100 kg and in this system they are kept in smaller groups by comparison with straw yards.


pig yardPigs on a straw yard. Fresh straw is added regularly and pigs love playing and rooting around in it. Pigs are inquisitive and intelligent animals and respond favourably to good care and attention (stockmanship). An unhappy pig is unlikely to be profitable.


inquisitive pigsOne man and his pigs! These animals are 5 months of age and weigh about 85 kg, they will be ready for the abbatoir in about three weeks having put on another 15 kg in weight.


pigs on slatted systemPigs on an intensive slatted system. The housing environment is controlled automatically to provide the optimum conditions for growth and health. Although this system does not use bedding, in hot humid conditions the pigs are kept cooler and do not suffer heat exhaustion.


pig carcassPigs are typically grown to about 100 kg before they are slaughtered although there are three distinct markets that farmers have tended to produce for. These are the bacon market (animals at 100 kg), the processing market (70 kg) and the fresh pork market (55 kg). In recent years improvements in management, nutrition and pig breeding have meant that animals can be grown onto the larger sizes without becoming fat, thus remaining suitable for the lower weight markets as well.








Statistics for Pigs and Pigmeat


Pigs and Pigmeat 
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
Total marketing pigs
(000s)
12381 10567 10282 9051 8679 8777 8731 9075 8994 8557 n/a
Pigs value of production
(£ millions)
822 738 689 686 681 677 685 736 865 976 984
Pork - home fed as % new supply
(%)
92 73 74 71 73 70 68 69
Bacon & Ham - home fed as % new supply
(%)
45 43 43 43 42 44 45 42
Pig meat - home fed as % new supply
(%)
49 48 48 49 52 50 53





June Census statistics for Pigs and Pigmeat


Pigs and Pigmeat
1900
1910
1920
1930
1940
1950
1960
1970
1980
1990
2000
Sows kept for pig breeding
(Numbers)
279,782 281,237 262,516 283,458 366,302 291,441 536,009 727,612 685,721 646,887 502,697
Other pigs
(Numbers)
1,741,640 1,739,082 1,551,861 1,820,841 2,789,117 1,804,846 3,603,377 5,439,294 5,792,473 5,661,437 4,939,771
Total pigs
(Numbers)
2,021,422 2,020,319 1,814,377 2,104,299 3,155,419 2,096,287 4,139,386 6,166,926 6,476,211 6,308,324 5,442,468