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We explore the impact on the pig sector and ask whether this lack of butchers could be a sign of things to come across the whole meat sector.

The Government has encouraged farmers in all sectors to be more efficient in order to reduce resources consumed and the costs involved both financially and to the environment.

In the pig sector, this has in part meant that on those farms that have tried to increase efficiency, each first-time farrowing sow gives birth to two to three more piglets on average than first-time mothers a decade ago. This has led to an increase in the number of pigs for slaughter in the UK – precisely what the Government wanted.


Since Brexit, many workers trained in butchery in our meat sector returned to the EU. This has meant there are less butchers to cut this ever-increasing number of pig carcases.

With the fridges of abattoirs filling up with pig carcases and nowhere for those carcases to go, abattoirs have been unable to undertake further pig slaughter.

Sadly, many of those pigs that should have been slaughtered in our abattoirs and which would therefore have entered the food chain, have instead been killed on farm.

Animal welfare

Not only does this have an impact on animal welfare of both the pigs coming through and the pigs which have to be slaughtered on farm, the financial impact will be felt at every stage of the food chain, as will the environmental impact.

For farmers who have produced the pigs just to see them culled, this is devastating and may in many cases take a toll on their mental health and possibly even see them leave the industry.


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