If you can’t go out, go up. That’s China’s philosophy as they look for new ways to expand hog production. New “hog hotels” are going up on Yaji Mountain in southern China. As the demand for pork rises, China is quickly running out of land to raise hogs. These “hotels” are multistory hog barns used to increase volume of production while minimizing land used.
Advantages of Building Up
This movement up the mountain was very biosecurity driven. USDA Undersecretary Bill Northey said on his visit biosecurity was the main topic of interest in many conversations.
“They talked about it all the time,” Northey says. The placement of sows and boars near the top of the mountain, and have pigs move down the mountain to finishing facilities were one way to improve biosecurity. “They believe the isolation away from other pigs is a huge part of what they were building.”
Their idea was to build this facility miles away from any other producers to limit exposure from other farms.
They can also work to limit the spread of disease between floors.
Farm manager Xu Jiajing said Yangxiang’s mountain top farm reduces the risk of disease by managing each floor separately, with staff working on the same floor every day. New sows are introduced to a building on the top floor and are then moved by elevator to an assigned level where they remain.
The ventilation system also serves as a means of keeping floors isolated. It prevents air from circulating between floors. Air comes from ground channels and is dispersed through ducts on each floor. It is then extracted through a central exhaust on the roof.
Apart from biosecurity advantages, there are also several others in these high-rise buildings. The facilities save immensely on energy and resources as well.
A typical large breeding farm in northern China would house 8,000 sows on about 32 acres. Yangxiang’s mountain top farm looks to house 30,000 sows on its 27 acre site. This operation could produce as many as 840,000 pigs annually. Successful farming says this would make it the largest, most intensive breeding farm in the world.
New Heights Bring New Challenges
Building higher, more intensive operations means higher costs and more complications. Successful farming wrote
Yangxiang spent 16,000 yuan per sow on its new farm, about 500 million yuan total, not including the cost of the pigs.
It also means more complex feeding, ventilation, and manure management systems. The farm plans to put scrapers under each floor. They will separate the waste water, dry the manure, and haul it down the mountain. Ventilation will also remain separate in each floor.
Health concerns are also a concern. The risk of disease is significantly greater with so many pigs under one roof. A disease outbreak could be devastating in such an intensive unit.
More Companies Moving Upwards
Despite low hog prices in China, land scarcity is leading companies to put more money into multistory buildings.
This past summer Yangxiang began construction on the first of the seven-story farrowing buildings. Expansion plans include four more building almost double that size. This includes a 13 floor building, the tallest in the world of its kind.
More companies are following in suit and building up. According to agweb.com,
In Fujian province, Shenzhen Jinxinnong Technology Co Ltd also plans to invest 150 million yuan ($24 million) in two five-story sow farms in Nanping.
Two other companies are building these multistory farms in Fujian as well. Another company looks to build four, six-story pig units in Yiwu, a Chinese city near Shanghai.
Image courtesy of Bill Northey