The world's largest producer and consumer of pork, China, was hit by the African swine fever (ASF) outbreak in 2018, which killed approximately 43.5 million pigs and had a negative impact on the country's economy.
A study found that almost all economic sectors were affected by the outbreak, and that swift ASF containment, in addition to prevention measures is urgently needed to prevent further outbreaks and economic downturns.
Over 95% of China's pig farming is done on small-scale and medium-sized farms or those with fewer than 500 animals. Pigs are frequently given untreated swill on these small-scale and medium-sized farms.
Little money is spent on the prevention and control of infectious swine diseases, and waste management and sanitary conditions are generally poor. Consequently, once a pig disease spreads, those small farms are frequently all but destroyed.
The study by authors Shibing You, Tingyi Liu, and colleagues is published in the journal Nature Food.
Building what has been referred to as "pig cities," "hog hotels," and "vertical pig farms" is one strategy for reviving the pig industry. These structures keep the pigs healthy and free of disease. A few years ago, a version was presented by Treehugger alongside the Dutch proposal for Pig City by MVRDV.
The largest single-building pig farm in the entire world has now started operations outside of Ezhou, China's Hubei province. The Guardian refers to this most recent version as a "pig skyscraper."
The Chinese housing market is currently in a serious crisis, and construction has all but ceased. As a result, Hubei Century Xinfeng Leishan Cement Co., a cement company, is undertaking the project. This indicates that the company is switching its focus from building homes for people to pig farms. Sino-Singapore Kaiwei Modern Animal Husbandry Co., Ltd. and the cement company are partners, according to Chinese news provider Baidu.
According to Zhuge Wenda, the chair of both businesses, this will save land while also being more environmentally friendly than traditional pig-raising farms. The cement and concrete industry is contracting due to the decline in infrastructure projects. However, there is always a demand for premium meat, and the pig-raising sector has a promising future.
Given the level of security required to prevent ASF outbreaks, it ought to be referred to as a pig bio lab. Employees must bathe one day prior to entering the site, sample the swine fever virus, bathe in the decontamination center that same day, and spend 30 minutes in the 65° drying room, per the Sino-Singapore Kaiwei Biosafety Management Manual.
Each link is strictly supervised, and workers can only enter the pig farm's dormitory after taking their second bath. The following day, they must also wash once more prior to entering the production area.
As "double insurance," the company has also created a high-temperature drying as well as a disinfection system to stop employees from spreading the virus. There are treadmills, pool tables, and table tennis, for the employees' amusement, so it's not all bad. Additionally, the company claims that it has tried to allow workers to leave the pig farm every week to increase employee happiness.
The pigs are given a similar routine. In addition to being imported and delivered in completely sealed trucks, French pigs were decontaminated on the first to third floors. The breeding pigs then have a separate, sealed area on the third through seventh floors. An annual production of 600,000 pigs is anticipated.
Because of the amount of waste from the pigs being used for anaerobic digesters and transformed into biogas, which is then used to warm up the building and generate electricity, they claim this system will be much more green than traditional pig farming.
There will be a lot more of this scenario, with 64 multistory pig farms located in Sichuan Province alone, according to The Guardian.
Given that the concrete industry is the driving force behind this, it raises yet another significant concern for Treehugger types.
In addition to producing 5 million tons of cement annually, Zhuge Wenda's Hubei Century Xinfeng Cement Plant is also a significant center for the mining of limestone, according to Baidu. The switch to pigs was made because the pandemic and real estate crash caused a 15% decrease in cement production. Unfortunately, building these pork palaces will have a significant carbon footprint because producing one ton of cement generates more than half a ton of carbon dioxide.
According to Treehugger, similar to the proverbial "everything but the squeal," waste heat from a cement plant is being used to heat water that enters a building where pigs are raised. This allows the pigs to have hot water to drink, take hot baths, and use as floor heating. Pork and cement are both parts of the same enterprise. Treehugger adds that the world needs less of both pork and cement.