World’s largest hog farm to be constructed in China

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Muyuan Foods, a hog producer in China is trying to raise even more pigs on a single site than any other producer worldwide by constructing what will be the world’s largest hog farm. This project is a risky investment considering the deadly African swine fever is lingering and rising. The new farm, which began construction in March and started operations at the first of its 21 buildings in September, epitomizes the breakneck pace at which huge, industrialized hog breeding facilities are replacing small, traditional farms, many of which were wiped out by the worst animal disease outbreak in recent history. The shift, underway for years, has accelerated sharply, fuelled by huge profits at corporate producers since African swine fever ravaged the country’s herd and sent pig prices soaring to double the previous record.

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Other hog farms in China weren’t spared by the epidemic, but as prices jumped, they quickly recouped their losses. Muyuan’s profits grew 1,413% in the first nine months of 2020 US$3.21 billion. Muyuan’s new mega farm near Nanyang, which will eventually house 84,000 sows and their offspring, by far the largest in the world. The new hog farm in China aims to produce around 2.1 million pigs a year. If it works as planned and other producers follow suit the world’s top pork consumer could reduce purchases from the global market, upending a booming meat trade that has supported farmers across the world.

Muyuan says it has overhauled its production process since the swine fever outbreak. Grain for feed is sterilized before being piped into the on-site feed mill from outside, avoiding possible contamination of the farm by trucks. Inside the pig housing, the air is filtered, and thermal imaging cameras are being trialed to check pigs’ body temperatures. The new measures are impressive as long as they are managed properly, said Michael Ellerman, vice general manager at Aspire, a Suzhou-based pig farm consultancy.