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How has the summer heatwave made a pig’s ear of Suffolk’s pork production?

PUBLISHED: 14:24 28 August 2018 | UPDATED: 14:24 28 August 2018

The site of Blythburgh Pigs Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The site of Blythburgh Pigs Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Bacon prices could be on the rise due to the knock-on affects of this summer’s heatwave.

The extreme tempretures have caused pigs to eat less and reduced their rate of growth Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe extreme tempretures have caused pigs to eat less and reduced their rate of growth Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The high temperatures seen throughout July and August have been affecting the Suffolk’s pigs, causing the them to eat less and produce smaller litters.

As a result piglet prices have risen by 8% - a figure which could influence the price of bacon in supermarkets, with Suffolk farmers already seeing the devastating affects of the British weather on pork production.

Jimmy Butler, the co-owner of Blythburgh Free Range Pork, said: “Pigs don’t eat as much in very hot weather and if they don’t eat they don’t grow, it takes longer for them to get to a mature weight.”

Mr Butler also blamed the worldwide wheat shortage for the gap in pork production after this year’s poor cereal crop yield.

Jimmy Butler claims that the heat has also affected his sows Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNJimmy Butler claims that the heat has also affected his sows Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

He said: “Our costs have certainly gone up. The drought during the summer has caused a shortage of wheat, which is a worldwide shortage - but we have small margins so that affects us more.

“Wheat stocks have been the lowest they have been for years, which means the price has gone up and proteins have also increased, which means feed is more expensive.

“Unfortunately feed makes up around 60% of our production costs.

“It’s a fact of life - if pig farmers are not earning a living they will go out of the industry and that will cause a shortage too.”

Bacon prices could rise across British supermarkets after the summer heatwave Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNBacon prices could rise across British supermarkets after the summer heatwave Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Mr Butler also claimed that the heat was having a detrimental effect on his sows, who are more likely to abort their litter, less likely to conceive and can even die giving birth, due to the stress caused by the extreme heat.

Alistaire Brice, owner of Havensfield Pigs Ltd, has also witnessed these problems on his farm in Bury St Edmunds.

He said: “Because their appetite is greatly suppressed, the pigs aren’t eating enough food to sustain themselves, to develop and grow.

“You also get a production blockage with piglets being born one week and pigs, who should be finished growing and leaving, hanging around the farm because they haven’t grown enough.

“They have to be put on a higher speck protein feed for longer and costs go up there. It’s a vicious circle.”

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