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China’s multi-story pig hotels: the controversy facilities that elevate industrial farms to new levels

3 min read

After seeing its pork production decimated by African swine flu outbreaks, China has been investing heavily into so-called pig hotels, controversial multi-storey pig raising facilities.

Elevating pig farming to new heights?
Yes, literally.
For the last three years, farmers across China have been investing billions of dollars into massive high-rise hog-raising facilities, not by chance popularly known as “pig hotels”.
The trend started with two and three-storey facilities, but it quickly escalated into monolithic structures of over 10 levels, with tens of thousand of animals raised there.
At the end of August 2022, Zhongxin Kaiwei Modern Farming, a privately-owned company in Hubei, completed a 26-storey pig hotel, the largest such structure in the world.

Located in Ezhou City, Zhongxin Kaiwei’s massive structure consists of two 400,000-square-meter buildings, both of which will be equipped with automated feeding machines and smart air filtration and disinfecting systems, as well as a biogas-based waste treatment system that will convert pig manure into clean energy for electricity generation and heating.
It is expected to produce around 54,000 tonnes of pork from a herd of 600,000 a year.

Such multi-level pig farms have been built in Europe as well, and while a few are still in operation today, most closed down over the years due to management issues and public pushback against massive, intensive pig farming.
However, none of them ever exceeded three storeys. Innovative China’s pig hotels, on the other hand, are literally taking the model to new heights.
Up until 2019, multi-level pig farms were illegal in China, but as African swine flu outbreaks started wreaking havoc, pushing pork prices through the roof, the Chinese Government lifted the ban in an attempt to increase production to meet demand.
As a result, small pig hotels have been popping up around the country, and they’ve been getting bigger and taller ever since.

Compared with traditional pig-raising farms, this saves land and is more environmentally friendly, they save energy and resources” one pig hotel investor claims, but the model remains controversial.

Apart from concerns about the quality of life of the animals being raised in these facilities, experts have expressed concerns regarding the biosecurity of such pig farms. For example, Zheng Zhicheng, public affairs director of the agriculture conglomerate New Hope Group, said that eventual African swine flu outbreaks in pig hotels could bring massive losses, as they would be more difficult to contain….

Images from web – Google Research