ABOVE: High-rise hog house horror in China.
A Concerned almost distraught member of ‘United Poignant Porcines’ alerted me recently to the news that a 26-storey ‘pig tower’ had not only been built in China, but had admitted its first ‘prisoners’, with some 3700 sows already interned.
Easily the biggest single-building pig farm in the world, it apparently has a capacity to slaughter 1.2 million pigs a year.
Located on the southern outskirts of Ezhou, a city in central China’s Hubei province, it is supposedly going to help satisfy China’s insatiable appetite for pork.
My disturbed UPP informant was adamant that while life on the ground floor confines of intensive concreted steel-barred Australian intensive piggeries was bad enough, skyscrapers as homes for pigs was “way over the top.”
Though here Down Under we are blessed with more freely available tracts of habitable land, there is still a concern that such a trend could become a reality in Australia, simply for no other reason than the economics might stack up, along with the concrete and steel reinforcements.
Despite readily available land, most pigs Down Under still spend the majority of their lives in confinement, restricted to hard floors with little room to freely move around and almost non-existent opportunities to engage in necessary natural behaviours.
Perhaps surprisingly, Hubei Zhongxin Kaiwei Modern Farming is a relative newcomer to the pig sector and farming in China.
Not surprising is that it started out as a cement investor, with multiple cement factories in provinces such as Hubei and Henan.
One of them, Hubei Xinshiji Cement, is next to the new pig farm.
Egregiously labelled ‘pig hotels’ in China, these multi-storey pig farms are more accurately and hog-honestly labelled ‘pig prisons’.
While escapes will be next to impossible, outbreaks of disease and biosecurity glitches will inevitably happen, and their scale will likely match the scale of the skyscraper structures.
Outbreaks of African swine fever, for example, would be all but impossible to contain and control.
Aside from that, the welfare of the confined high-rise hogs would be abysmal.
I understand multi-level pig farms have been built in Europe as well and, while a few still operate, most have closed due to management issues and predictable public pushback.
However, none of them ever exceeded three storeys.
On the other trotter, China’s pig hotels are taking the model to heady never-before-reached heights.
Up until 2019, multi-level pig farms were illegal in China, but as African swine fever outbreaks started wreaking havoc and pushing pork prices through the roof, the Chinese Government lifted the ban in an attempt to increase production to meet demand.
Small pig hotels subsequently have been popping up and getting bigger and taller ever since.
How the world of pork production has reached such a sad stage that pigs need to be raised in multi-story buildings with no access to anything even approaching the natural world is positively unnatural and unacceptable.
Advocates of high-rise hog farming can bleat or squeal all they like about the imagined economic realities or necessities of building and operating such stark horrible animal hellholes, but they will never win the hearts and minds of the discerning consuming public.
That said, the harsh economic realities many people in the world face can dictate that they choose to ignore the degraded lives that the animals they choose to consume must endure.
While this is a sad fact of life in many countries, it should not be the case here in Australia, where, despite rampant prevailing inflation, most shoppers can still afford not to check out at the checkout when it comes to acknowledging animal welfare and industrial scale cruelty.