Pig farming

Pig farming

There are around four million pigs on British farms, which have a global reputation for high welfare standards.
Pigs enjoying their feeding time. iStock.com/Martin Tosh
Pigs enjoying their feeding time. iStock.com/Martin Tosh

Pig farms can be found all over England, although most are in the east of the country, with particular hotspots in Yorkshire and Humberside.

Although there are around four million pigs in the UK, the sector is under pressure from an increasing amount of cheaper imported pork. There are concerns that the welfare standards in the countries it's produced in are not as high as it is in the UK.

Pig welfare

Manual, hands-on work remains a key part of pig farming, from feeding and watering, to changing bedding, mucking out and looking after pigs when they’re farrowing, which means giving birth. 

Pig farmers also need to administer vaccines and keep detailed records on each pig’s medical history. Many farmers are looking to reduce the use of antibiotics, and improve animal health through a better understanding of pig behaviour and by providing an environment in which they can thrive.

Energy-efficient barns

Some pigs live in outdoor enclosures with plenty of mud to forage in as well as a shelter. Others are reared indoors in large, energy-efficient barns, many of which include CCTV and remote cameras, which are used to monitor pigs and help with disease control. Some pig farmers also focus on rare breeds and organic farming.

As with cattle farming, animal welfare and involvement in national schemes, such as Red Tractor, are of the greatest importance, as is the management of manure and finding ways to turn it into a resource, often for used for generating energy.

Find out more about other sectors in farming and growing in England.