What You Need to Know About China's Swine Industry
By Betsy Freese, Successful Farming
Agriculture.com - 1/12/2018
Swine veterinarian John Kolb spent the past two years working in China, calling the experience “challenging, sometimes frustrating, but always interesting.” The Chinese swine industry produces as many pigs as the rest of the countries in the world combined, he explains, so U.S. producers need to watch what is happening there.
The changes to the Chinese swine industry have accelerated as the country moves to become more food self-sufficient, says Kolb, but not every farm moves at the same pace. “There is a broad range of experience, skill, and willingness to adapt and improve among producers.”
Most traditional farms have a factory look and have buildings that were designed for manufacturing purposes, making them very difficult to ventilate. The layout was simply copied from other industrial facilities to save costs. Larger and more professional pork producers are seeking out Western input. Facilities and pig flow are improving in the modernizing parts of the industry, says Kolb.
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Economic drivers will force Chinese hog farms to become more efficient and productive, says Kolb. In general, production costs are double that of the U.S.
Grain prices are expected to remain high for Chinese producers, with both proposed increases in supports for grain prices and expanded use of bio-fuels.
“High feed costs and variable feed-quality problems do restrict the competitiveness of pork and poultry producers in China compared with North American producers,” says Kolb.
Financial competitiveness, as in the U.S., varies greatly from larger, integrated producers to small suppliers, he says. Biologic performance likewise varies greatly. Top-quality production systems can achieve 25 pigs per sow per year (PSY) or more on a system-wide basis, making them competitive in any marketplace. However, the performance is more variable than that in the U.S. Middle- and lower-quality farms in China often produce less than 15 PSY.
“There are top-10 producers in China still struggling to get to 20 PSY,” says Kolb. “Similar to the late 1990s in the U.S., more efficient Chinese producers or those with access to land and capital may be positioned to acquire systems with poorer financial performance.”
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