Hog Hotels the new trend from China

Hog Hotels the new trend from China

Privately owned agricultural company Guangxi Yangxiang Co Ltd is running two seven-floor sow breeding operations, and is putting up four more, including one with as many as 13 floors that will be the world’s tallest building of its kind. Hog farms of two or three floors have been tried in Europe. Some are still operating, others have been abandoned, but few new ones have been built in recent years, because of management difficulties and public resistance to large, intensive farms.

Now, as China pushes ahead with industrialization of the world’s largest hog herd, part of a 30-year effort to modernize its farm sector and create wealth in rural areas, companies are experimenting with high-rise housing for pigs despite the costs. The “hotels” show how far some breeders are willing to go as China overhauls its farming model. 

For some, the investments are too risky. Besides low prices that have smaller operations culling sows or re-thinking expansion plans, there is worry about diseases spreading through such intensive operations. But success for high-rise pig farms in China could have implications across densely populated, land-scarce Asia, as well as for equipment suppliers.

“We see an increasing demand for two- or three-level buildings,” said Peter van Issum, managing director of Microfan, a Dutch supplier that designed Yangxiang’s ventilation system. Microfan also supplied a three-storey breeding operation, Daedeok JongDon GGP Farm, in South Korea.

The site, however, is relatively close to Guigang, a city with a river port and waterway connections to the Pearl River Delta, one of the world’s most densely populated regions. While Chinese government is encouraging more livestock production in the grain basket region of China's northeast, many worry that farms there will struggle to get fresh pork safely to big cities thousands of miles away.

That has helped push some farm investments to southern provinces like Guangxi and Fujian, where land is hilly but much closer to many of China’s biggest cities. Yangxiang will house 30,000 sows on its 11-hectare site by year-end, producing as many as 840,000 piglets annually. That will likely make it the biggest, most-intensive breeding farm globally. A more typical large breeding farm in northern China would have 8,000 sows on around 13 hectares.