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Chinese mega-farm highlighted at symposium

Aspire chinese hog farm.png
Carthage Veterinary Service hosts presentation on 84,000-sow farrow-to-finish swine production site.

Carthage Veterinary Service recently hosted its first ever virtual Spring Symposium. The general session was filled with great presentations from industry leaders focusing in on markets and marketing, global pig consumption and production and genetics.

The keynote address for this year’s symposium was given by the new University of Illinois head football coach, Bret Bielema.  Coach Bielema, who was raised on a swine farm near Prophetstown, Illinois, brought vast experience to the event, providing his take on “Overcoming Diversity.”

One of the most popular general session presentations focused on an update of the 84,000-sow farrow-to-finish swine production site in China. The site has gained global attention over the last several months and has led to many discussions on its sheer size and technology needed to operate a swine farm at this scale.  Michael Ellerman, with the Chinese swine management and consulting firm Aspire Agritech Consulting, led the presentation with thought provoking insights and pictures from his farm visits during its construction. 

Although a farm of this magnitude is not feasible here in the United States, the production concepts and technologies employed are important for us to follow. You have to appreciate the detail and technology involved in this build, and you’ll find it valuable to brainstorm how you can incorporate some of these items in our own farm construction projects.

Site layout

The production site in China had originally been projected to be an 84,000-sow farrow-to-finish system, but it has now appreciated to a 105,000-sow farrow-to-finish system with on-site feedmill, slaughterhouse, employee housing, and waste water treatment center. It is estimated that this large site is spread across approximately 450 acres of land.

The production site is also segregated into seven large production sites. Each site would be made up of three separate 35,000-head sow farms that are run farrow-to-finish. The production buildings are six stories tall. The sow farm is housed on the top two floors, with the nursery on its own floor directly underneath the sow farm. The finishing system is spread across the bottom three floors of the building structure. 

Biosecurity

The production site is designed with a large focus on external biosecurity due to African swine fever, classical swine fever, foot-and-mouth disease being popular pathogens in China – in addition to the diseases that we are familiar with here in the United States. Special biosecurity considerations were applied to:

  • Transportation biosecurity. There will be no trucks needed to enter the site for animal and feed transportation. There will be automated carts that will move animals from the finishing floors to the slaughterhouse that are able to be washed and disinfected prior to re-entry to the finisher building. There are elevators in each building that will move animals between floors as they move through the production system.
  • Feed ingredient sourcing. The farm is built near a very large industrial park where feed ingredients are brought in by trains. A very large feed line system has been constructed to move in raw ingredients from outside the farm, straight into the feed mill to eliminate the need for delivery trucks.
  • Employee housing. On-site employee housing is provided to limit the risk of pathogens being brought in by the internal staff members. An on-site centralized kitchen is used to make food and deliver to each farm. 
  • Air filtration. External air is filtered at the entry of each of the farms. Additionally, exhaust air is filtered as it exits each building as a way to help decrease odor produced by the farm.

Technology

Due to the sheer size of the farm and the advanced needs for biosecurity, technology plays a large role in its functionality. The farm is equipped with 5G network coverage across the entirety of the site. With the increased challenge of employee recruitment, several functions of these farms are beginning to move toward robotic technology. Several automated programs have been designed to streamline efficiency including robotic manure scrapers, automated live animal transportation carts, and animal husbandry programs designed to pick up on sick or injured animals sooner.

This symposium was free for all in the industry to view and all presentations, including the Chinese mega-farm one, are available on demand at https://carthagevetservice.6connex.com/event/Carthage/springsymposium/login.

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