More “high-rise hog hotels” are going up on Yaji Mountain in southern China, as the country rapidly modernizes and expands its hog industry.
One building will have as many as 13 floors—the world’s tallest building of its kind.
“There are big advantages to a high-rise building,” said Xu Jiajing, manager of Yangxiang’s mountain-top farm, according to Reuters.
“It saves energy and resources. The land area is not that much but you can raise a lot of pigs.”
However, building up costs more for feeding, ventilation, manure management and using elevators to move pigs.
And recently China’s hog producers have pulled back on their aggressive expansion plans because profits are being squeezed by lower hog prices and higher feed costs, some of that because of a new tariff on U.S. soybeans.
Farm manager Xu said Yangxiang reduces the risk of disease by managing each floor separately, with staff working on the same floor every day.
New sows are introduced to a building on the top floor and are then moved by elevator to an assigned level where they remain.
The ventilation system is designed to prevent air from circulating between floors, instead coming from the ground channels to ducts on each floor.
A central exhaust is on the roof with extraction fans pulling air through filters.
A waste treatment plant is still under construction to handle the site’s manure. After treatment, the liquid will be sprayed on the surrounding forest and solids will be sold to farms as organic fertilizer.
Yangxiang will house 30,000 sows in this 11-hectare (27-acre) site by year-end, producing 840,000 piglets per year.
The company has spent nearly 16,000 yuan ($2,524 US) per sow on the new farm, about 500 million yuan ($79 million US), not including the cost of the pigs.
Locating the farms on a mountain has challenges, but the site is 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.
In Fujian province, Shenzhen Jinxinnong Technology Co. Ltd. also plans to invest 150 million yuan ($24 millionUS) in two five-story sow farms in Nanping. Two other companies are building high-rise hog farms in Fujian as well, according to an equipment firm involved in the projects.
Thai livestock-to-retail conglomerate CP Foods is also building four six-story pig units with local firm Zhejiang Huatong Meat Products Co. in Yiwu, a Chinese city near the large populations around Shanghai.
China’s 10 largest pig farming firms accounted for only 5.8 per cent of hogs sent to slaughter in 2016, but that was up by 2.8 per cent from the previous year, said Zhang Guangan, director of the China Swine Industry Association.