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BREEDING ▶▶▶


Pathogen Free (SPF) status with high biosecurity and an air filtration system. The farm has a 2,000 sow capacity of four lines: Landrace, Large White, Duroc and Piétrain.


There are limits to repopulation For practical reasons, however, it will be impossible to refill all Chinese pig houses within one year. Most importantly, there are not enough breeding pigs. Jeroen van de Camp, Hypor, explains that their entire year’s production, both in as well as destined for the Chinese market, has already been sold. He says, “We could produce as much as we wanted – in fact there are no limits to demand.” Nucléus aims to send 6,000 animals from France to China this year. Similarly, in 2020 Axiom will ship a batch of 1,500 to 2,000 animals to China every three months. Yet there are limits, as the companies will also have to continue to provide genetics to their existing clients. Another limiting factor boils down to logistics. That mainly applies to the current situation as most planes cannot fly due to Covid-19. A third and important limiting factor is animal health. Pigs destined for export to China have to be free from Porcine Re- productive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae (App) and Mycoplasma suis. On top of this, there has to be a secure place for them in China to ensure minimum risk of them being affected by ASF virus. Sigrid Wil- lems, export leader at French-based Axiom, explains that the pigs, once transported to China, have to be quarantined for 45 days. The next step would be location in brand new pig fa- cilities. Axiom has three employees on the spot to assist cus- tomers in China. In doing so, Axiom is not the only one – all breeding companies working in China have local teams for technical and veterinary support for their customers. Van Orsouw and his team at PIC observe that the Chinese have grown conscious of the importance of good biosecurity. There continues to be, however, a risk of ASF infection. Van Orsouw says, “There’s a lot of ambition in China – as well as worries. More people with expert knowledge are needed, for wide implementation of great biosecurity. Just like Russia, China will have to learn how to deal with ASF.”


A new era for China’s pig industry The companies investing in new breeding material are large and usually well equipped – which is advantageous for China. At those companies, biosecurity has been taken care of rea- sonably, if not well. It’s those producers the breeding compa- nies focus on – they have sufficient financial resources, and with high pig prices of € 5/kg live weight they would even be able to sustain a depop/repop, should the virus return. ASFv will therefore lead to a “new” pig industry in China. Smaller farms will close, if they haven’t already. Farms pro- ducing millions of pigs annually will stay in business and con- tinue to grow. That structure is about to change permanently. In addition, a concentration will take place of pig production


12 ▶PIG PROGRESS | Volume 36, No. 4, 2020


How many sows are needed to rebuild China’s pig industry?


It is difficult to make a correct estimate of the total re- quired number of F1 sows needed in China to rebuild their pig production industry. As a rule of thumb, Ernst van Orsouw of PIC aims for 7–8 million animals, which is as much as the sow population of the US and Canada combined. Having said that, he adds that 10 million might also be possible. It is clear that the number of needed animals is incredibly high. Julien Rogon of Nucléus explains that hundreds of plane loads with pure line animals are needed to have sufficient numbers of F1 sows in China. That process will take years, he says. Rogon says that in 2019, demand from China already surpassed what Nucléus could supply; the same was true of other genetics companies as well. According to the statistics, China had 45 million sows for multiplication purposes in 2018, prior to the onset of ASF. Of that amount, at least 40% became the victim of ASF, di- rectly or indirectly – which is 23 million animals. To put things in perspective: the entire European Union has a population of 12 million sows. That does not mean that 23 million sows are needed to get China back on track again. The piglet production will grow, China will send heavier pigs to slaughter and small- er companies will not invest again in multiplication sows – if they ever did.


and slaughterhouses. Those are all measures to be able to produce sufficient amounts of pig meat in the future, with a lower risk of a large drop in production.


The start Currently, breeding companies are still working to find the best position in the Chinese market, through ways such as searching for partners, arranging proper logistics and grow- ing production outside China. Repopulating Chinese pig houses is expected to really take off – and take a more struc- tured character – in the second half of 2020. Breeding organisations have had to wait a long time. Some have been active in China for over 20 years and only since 2015 have they been in serious business. All the years prior to that were difficult, but that has now changed. For instance, PIC achieved 18% global growth in volume in the second half of 2019. Without China, that growth would have been 7%, ac- cording to the company’s annual report. In the last six months of 2019, PIC noticed its margin in Asia grew 300% – and that was entirely because of great genetics sales in China.


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