Livestock Census Results: Decline in German Pig Farmers, but Stabilization in Population

The recently released results from the November 3 livestock census in Germany indicate a slowing down of the significant decline in animal numbers, particularly in the pig farming sector. According to preliminary data, the total number of pigs in Germany decreased by 0.7% compared to the previous year. This decline has temporarily halted the massive downward trend in livestock numbers, attributed to improved economic conditions in pig farming. However, the number of pig farming operations continues to decrease.

The German Statistical Office (Destatis) reported a stabilization in pig populations but noted a further reduction in the number of farms. The Interessengemeinschaft der Schweinehalter Deutschlands e.V. (ISN) highlights that while the economic situation in pig farming has improved, many pig farmers remain cautious about the future. The exit of producers, particularly in sow farming, poses concerns for the domestic piglet supply.

Stemming the Decline in Pig Population

As of November 3, 2023, the preliminary census data reveals that there were 21.2 million pigs in German farms, indicating a decrease of 0.7% (150,600 animals) compared to November 3, 2022. The number of pig farming operations also declined by 4.5% to 16,180, representing a reduction of 760 farms compared to the previous year.

Sow Farming Challenges

The challenges are particularly evident in sow farming, where a 6% decrease in the number of sow farmers was recorded. This trend raises concerns about the future supply of domestic piglets. Additionally, the inventory of fattening pigs decreased by 1.5%, while the number of young pigs and piglets showed mixed trends.

Continued Farm Reduction

Despite the slight decrease in livestock numbers in the latest November census, the ten-year comparison reveals a significant decline. Since November 2013, 11,800 pig farms have withdrawn from the industry, representing a decrease of approximately 42%. During the same period, pig populations decreased by 24.6%, emphasizing a trend towards larger average farm sizes.

ISN’s Perspective

The overall census results align with earlier assessments based on individual state data, indicating a noticeable slowing of the downward trend in livestock numbers. While improved economic conditions in pig farming have played a role, the ongoing reduction in the number of pig farming operations suggests lingering concerns among farmers. The exit of producers, especially in sow farming, is a critical issue given the current challenges and impending changes in animal welfare regulations. A survey conducted by ISN and AEF highlighted political conditions and the lack of planning security as major factors contributing to negative future outlooks among German pig farmers.