2023 turned out to be a standout year for Maltese pigs, with new EU figures showing that Malta now tops Europe’s rankings for the largest increase in its swine population.

With Rosianne Cutajar’s prescient remark that “everybody is pigging out” ringing in their ears, Malta’s pig farmers upped their game in 2023, growing Malta’s pig population by over a fifth to now reach almost 36,000.

Bulgaria is the only country to match Malta’s sharp increase in pig population, with most EU countries registering fewer pigs than in previous years.

This reversed a previous trend which had seen the number of pigs in Malta drop from 40,000 to just 29,500 between 2021 and 2022.

Malta’s pig population fell sharply over the past decade, dropping by over 15,000 since 2013, but appears to have recovered over the past year.

Malta's cow population, on the other hand, has remained largely unchanged, with just over 14,000 cows grazing in the country.

Cutajar’s warning had inspired droves of people to take on the mantle and dress up as pigs during last year’s Nadur carnival celebrations. Despite the detailed costumes, they did not feature in the EU’s count.

People dressed up as pigs during last year's Nadur carnival. Photo: Nadur Local Council/FacebookPeople dressed up as pigs during last year's Nadur carnival. Photo: Nadur Local Council/Facebook

Livestock numbers dip across Europe

Livestock numbers around Europe have been on the decline for years, with some estimates suggesting that Europe’s livestock has dropped by almost a tenth over the past two decades.

In some cases, this has been by design, with some countries taking drastic action to reduce livestock to cut down greenhouse gas emissions driven by an overload of manure.

The data reveals that the overall number of all types of livestock dipped in 2023 compared to the previous year. There are now 133 million pigs, 74 million bovine animals, 58 million sheep, and 11 million goats across the EU.

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