The latest Defra census shows pig numbers on December 1 totalled 4.2 million head. This was just over 2% lower compared with the same period last year.
The latest numbers, released on Thursday, reflect the impact of higher feed costs since last summer which have hit the profitability of pig producers and led some to leave the industry or reduce the size of their herds.
The majority of the decline was a result of a 3% reduction in the number of fattening pigs, which fell to 3.7 million head in the latest survey.
There was also a 2% contraction in the female pig breeding herd, although this is in comparison with a figure for December 2011 which was lower than expected. The latest figure represents a fall of 6% compared with the number for June 2012, mainly due to a sharp fall in lactating/dry sows. In contrast, in-pig sows and gilts were both higher.
March 2013/ BPEX/ United Kingdom.