China’s 26-story pig skyscraper is set to house one million pigs a year

A massive apartment-style building overlooks a main street, on the southern outskirts of Ezhou, a city in central China’s Hubei province. But it’s not just for office workers or families. At 26 floors it is by far the largest single-building pig farm in the world, with a capacity to slaughter 1.2 million pigs a year.

This Is China’s Answer To Its Insatiable Demand For Pork most popular animal protein in the country

The new skyscraper-sized farm began production in early October when the company behind the facility – Hubei Zhongxin Kaiwei Modern Farming – accepted its first 3,700 sows into the farm.

Zhongxin Kaiwei is a newcomer to the pig field – and farming. It began as a cement investor with several cement factories in provinces such as Hubei and Henan. One of them, Hubei Xinshiji Cement, is next to the new pig farm.

company Where is that it had originally planned to invest in ready-to-cook food production, but changed its mind following a downturn in the cement and construction industries in China. The company’s general manager, Jin Lin, has said that the company saw modern agriculture as a promising field and the opportunity to use its own building materials to build the pig farm.

farm location map

According to the statements of the company’s official WeChat account, there are two buildings in the pig farm. Behind the operational site, a similar looking building of similar size is nearing completion. When fully operational, they will provide a combined area of ​​800,000 m² with a capacity for 650,000 animals.

The 4bn yuan (£473m) farm has gas, temperature and ventilation-controlled conditions, with animals being fed through more than 30,000 automated feeding spots at the click of a button in a central control room.

A monitor showing pigs inside a 26-storey pig farm in Ezhou, Hubei province, China
A monitor showing pigs in a controlled environment of a 26-story farm in Ezhou, Hubei Province, China. Photograph: Handout

The company says the waste from the pigs will be treated and used to generate biogas, which can be used to generate electricity and heat water inside the farm. Workers will have to undergo several rounds of disinfection and testing before being cleared to enter, and will not be able to leave the site until their next break – reportedly once a week,

“It’s unfathomable,” a farmer in his 50s who lives in the village across the road from the farm told the Guardian. He said he is concerned that the proximity of the farm could lead to odor problems once the farm is fully operational.

“When I was raising pigs about 30 years ago, we only had two or three pigs in our backyard. I’ve heard that pigs raised on these farms can be ready for sale in just a few months, and at that time it took us about a year to raise a pig. But I think this will be the trend in the future as technology advances.

China has tried to upgrade its pigmeat production – it consumes approx. half of all pigs of the world – after losing as 100 million pigs for the fatal swine disease African swine fever (ASF) between 2018 and 2020.

26-storey pig farm in Ezhou, Hubei Province
Feed for the pigs is transported to the farm on a conveyor system. Proponents of skyscraper farms say they are a better way to operate and reduce pressure on land resources. Photograph: Handout

in a policy free In 2019, China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said it would allow the construction of high-rise breeding facilities. An announcement welcomed by investors including Kingki Smart Agriculture, which has allegedly said The high-rise production model is more efficient, bio-safe and eco-friendly.

“Compared with traditional breeding methods, high-rise pig farms are more intelligent, with a higher degree of automation and biosecurity. At the same time, it also has the advantage of saving land resources,” Animal Science of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences said Zhu Zengyong, a professor at the institute, who said ASF has grown in popularity after the outbreak.

In southwestern Sichuan province alone, 64 multistory farms were planned, or under construction, by 2020. high as a result,” Zhu said.

However, other experts said the massively intensive farms have increased the potential for ever-larger disease outbreaks.

“Intensive facilities can reduce interactions between domesticated and wild animals and their diseases, but if diseases get inside they can spread like wildfire among animals,” said Matthew Hayek, assistant professor of environmental studies at New York University. can spread.”

26-storey pig farm in Ezhou, Hubei Province, China
The farm complex is built close to housing in Ezhou, and will eventually slaughter 1.2 million pigs each year. Photograph: Handout

“I hear many reports of ‘biosafety’, ‘efficiency’ and ‘sustainability’. We hear similar stories for US indoor facilities. However, there is little evidence that these intensive facilities have any benefits in reality ,” They said.

Dirk Pfeiffer, Chair Professor of Forest Health at the City University of Hong Kong, agreed and said: “The higher the density of animals, the higher the risk of spread and amplification of infectious pathogens, as well as the potential for mutation.

“Perhaps an even more important question will be whether this type of production is commensurate with the need to reduce meat consumption given the apparently insurmountable threat of catastrophic climate change,” he said.

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