Small and large farms and meat-producing companies in China are now making their livestock as heavy as polar bears to tackle the growing shortage of pork in the country caused by the African swine fever.
Pang Cong, a farm owner in Nanning, capital of Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, raised a pig weighing in at 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds), which is as heavy as an average adult male polar bear, according to Bloomberg.
To compare, an average male polar bear weighs at around 351 to 544 kilograms (773 to 1,199 pounds).
Pang said some of the pigs they breed can sell for up to 10,000 yuan ($1,400) — over three times the disposable income in the province’s capital.
Meanwhile, farmers from the northeastern province of Jilin are trying to reach an average weight of 175 to 200 kilograms (385 to 440 pounds) for their pigs. This weight is far heavier than the average 125 kilograms (275 pounds) before the pandemic hit.
Major meat producers in China like Cofco Meat, Beijing Dabeinong Technology, and the country’s top pig breeder Wens Foodstuffs are all trying to increase the average weight of pigs.
Lin Guofa, a senior analyst with consulting firm Bric Agriculture Group, said large farms are boosting heft by 14% and the average weight of pigs at slaughter has gone up to 140 kilograms (308 pounds) from 110 kilograms (242 pounds).
The massive increase in weight could boost profit by 30%, Lin added.
Some estimates say that the African swine fever has cut China’s hog herd by half.
Since the African swine fever only targets pigs and is not a public health threat, the World Organization for Animal Health has considered the pandemic a “trade limiting foreign animal disease of swine,” Pork.org reported.
The African swine fever, a large, double-stranded DNA virus in the Asfarviridae family, can cause haemorrhagic fever with high mortality rates in domestic pigs. Deaths can be as quick as a week after being infected.
Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua said China will face a shortage of pork by 10 million tons this year, and the “extremely severe” supply situation can last up to the first half of 2020.
Images China News via CCTV