Major changes in German sow husbandry

Sow husbandry in Germany has changed significantly. Sow husbandry forms the essential basis of pig husbandry in a country. Although imports are possible to a certain extent, they are usually only a supplementary part. In Germany, sow husbandry has declined by almost 40% over the past decade. Destocking accelerated by -22% between 2020 and 2023. The declining development has taken place strongly in the lower herd size classes. While around 10 years ago the proportion of sows in herds with fewer than 100 animals was still 15% of the animals and 55% of the farms, in 2023 it is only 6% of the sows and 34% of the farms. On the other hand, the number of farms in the upper herd size class over 500 animals fell in the same period after an interim increase from 600 to 560 units. The number of sows in this category only fell by 1.2%. The average population is around 1,150 animals. In the past 30% of the sows were kept in this herd group, but today it is 48%.Farms in the 100 to 250 sow size category have fallen from 4,400 to 1,800 units over the 10 year period. The associated numbers of animals have shrunk from 705,000 to almost 300,000. The changes in the herd size class of 250 to less than 500 sows were not quite as serious. In 2023, 980 units were still counted from the previous 1,500 companies. Animal numbers have decreased from 493,000 to 334,000. In the individual federal states, the structural change has taken place at different speeds, depending on the initial situation. In the two strongholds of German pig farming, Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia, the changes were less pronounced than in the southern German federal states. In a ten-year comparison in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse, the number of farms keeping sows has fallen by around 70% and the number of animals has fallen by between 55 and 65%. Southern German piglets used to be exported to Northern Germany, but today the number of piglets is hardly sufficient for their own needs.In Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia, the number of farms has fallen by around 60% and the number of sows by a little over 30% over the 10-year period. Around 73% of German sows are kept in both countries together.

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