October 7, 2019
Rocked by ASF outbreak, China's farmers now want to raise bigger pigs
Stung by the African swine fever outbreak that had wiped out 25% of China's pork production, some Chinese farmers are now looking to breed bigger - if, not more - pigs, according to a Bloomberg report.
The article highlighted a farm in the country's south, where a 500kg pig - purportedly as heavy as a polar bear - was reared as part of a herd being developed to become 'giant swine.'
At slaughter, some of these pigs could fetch more than ¥10,000 (US$1,400) which is over three times the average monthly disposable income in Nanning, the capital of Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.
The animals accentuate a belief that bigger is better, which has recently been gathering pace across China. This trend is reflected in the northeastern province of Jilin, where farmers are encouraged by high pork prices to raise pigs to an average weight of 175kg to 200kg - much heavier than a normal 125kg.
Even major protein producers like Wens Foodstuffs, Cofco Meat and Beijing Dabeinong Technology are jumping on the bandwagon by attempting to raise pigs with a heavier-than-usual average weight.
Large farms are focusing on boosting heft by at least 14%, Lin Guofa, a senior analyst with consulting firm Bric Agriculture Group, said.
The average weight of pigs at slaughter at some large-scale farms has risen to as much as 140kg, compared with about 110kg normally, Lin added. That could boost profits by more than 30%.
The move towards raising heavier pigs is attributed to the struggle China faces in making up for pork shortfall as ASF has killed a massive number of local pigs since August last year. Pork prices rose as supply tightened and the Chinese government called upon farmers to increase production so as to stabilise prices.
China is also expected to suffer a 10 million tonnes of pork shortage this year, according to Chinese Vice-Premier Hu Chunhua. In response, Hu told local authorities to restart pig production soon and achieve normal levels by next year.
Given the higher prices for piglets and breeding sows, raising heavier pigs may be a more economical move for farmers seeking to rebuild their herds.