World’s largest high-rise pig farm constructed in China to address insatiable demand for pork

CHINA –A 26-storey high-rise pig farm worth ¥4 billion (US$590M) has been constructed on the outskirts of Ezhou, a city in Hubei province, China.

The facility has the capacity to slaughter 1.2 million pigs in a year with the aim of supplying the country’s most popular source of animal protein, pork.

According to a report on per capita consumption of meat products in china by Statista in 2022, nearly 42 million metric tonnes of pork had been consumed in china.

With lesser than 20% of the world’s population, the Chinese accounted for 40% of worldwide pork consumption.

The new pig farm has two buildings and together they cover an area of 800,000 with a capacity of holding 650,000 animals at a time, with each floor containing over 1,000 pigs

The farm has gas temperature and ventilation-controlled conditions and automatic feeding spots that can feed 30,000 animals simultaneously, at the click of a button in a central control room, according to a reporter from The Guardian.  

Waste from the pigs is used to generate biogas which is used to heat water in the farm and generate power.

Workers have to go through multiple rounds of disinfection and testing before being permitted into the farm and are not allowed to leave before their next break, which is once a week.

Compared to the conventional methods of breeding, the high-rise pig farm is more intelligent, employing high levels of automation and biosafety with the advantage of saving land resources.

A farmer during an interview with The Guardian said that decades ago, it used to take them about a year to raise a single pig but as technology advances trends of using only a few months to rear a pig will become popular, as it is already happening in the new pig farm.

However, experts believe congesting that many animals in one place will increase the likelihood and severity of disease outbreaks, as was the case with COVID-19 spread in high-rise corporate buildings.

More concerns were raised about the impact of the proliferation of high-rise animal farms on climate change.

A study by Oxford University found that operations of production of plant-based meat alternatives produce between 1/5 to 1/10 of the environmental impact of animal-based products’ production.

Together with disease and climate concerns, animal rights and welfare groups like PETA also feel apprehensive about whether it is ethical to intensively farm sentient creatures such as pigs.

“This sky-high farm is a new low for China. Up to 650,000 curious, sensitive pigs are set to be crammed into the building and deprived of everything that’s natural and important to them,” says Mimi Bekhechi, PETA vice president for Europe UK and Australia.

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