‘Pigs can fly’! Jumbo jets carry world’s biggest hog herd from France to China – Times Now

Posted: June 12, 2020 at 12:49 am

More than 4,000 high-quality French breeding pigs have been transported to China. | Image: Unsplash  |  Photo Credit: Representative Image

Beijing: Over 4,000 high-quality French breeding pigs have been transported to China in six planes so far this year. China is rushing to restock imports after an outbreak of African swine fever swept through the country from late 2018. The fever killed tens of millions of pigs and reduced the sow herd by about 60 per cent.

The farmers who had stopped buying pigs have resumed orders due to soaring pork prices and a government drive to rebuild. Some farmers are doubling contracts that had been signed before the outbreak of the disease.

"Its like after World War Two. They lost half the herd and need to repopulate fast to get it back," Marie Pushparajalingam, global strategist for French swine genetics company Axiom, told Reuters.

China is importing breeding pigs to get the advantage of traits such as increased productivity and better meat quality that global genetics firms select for during breeding. A top breeding sow (female pig primarily used for breeding) can have a litter of as many as 16 piglets.

Axiom sent two 777 jets to China in January and two 747s were sent last month, totalling about 3,400 pigs. Pushparajalingam said that deals for six more plane-loads have been signed. The company is expecting additional business.

Another herd of 500 pigs bred by Dutch firm Topigs Norsvin arrived from France in southwestern Guizhou last week, Chinas Dekang Group said. The pigs will be in a nucleus breeding farm to produce 20 million pigs for slaughter.

China slaughters about 700 million pigs every year to produce over 50 million tonnes of pork. However, the disease outbreak reduced pork output by 21 per cent in 2019, leading to soaring prices. Production will fall again this year.

Due to the severe shortage of sows, producers are even holding back female pigs which are usually destined for slaughter to be used in breeding farms. These pigs will produce much smaller litters than a sow.

According to the estimates of a genetics company, China may need over 150 planeloads of pure bred pigs to replenish its herd.

The pigs undergo a month of health checks and spend another 30 days in quarantine under the observation of an official Chinese vet before shipment. Once they are transported, the pigs spend another 45 days at a quarantine facility to ensure that they are disease-free.

Laurent Poussart, manager of Francexporc, a pig freight specialist, said that the coronavirus pandemic has further complicated the shipments.

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'Pigs can fly'! Jumbo jets carry world's biggest hog herd from France to China - Times Now

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