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New data show China's pig herd has shrunk by 41.1 percent in a year

Data collected in September showed a 41.1 percent drop in China's pig herd compared to figures from 2018 and numbers continue to decline as ASF floods the industry.

14 October 2019, at 10:47am

The Ministry of Agriculture announced that the national pig herd had shrunk significantly in just over a year since the first outbreak of African swine fever was confirmed on a pig farm in China. Sadly, numbers are only set to decrease further as new outbreaks continue to emerge in all Chinese provinces.

The latest outbreak occurred in a breeding cooperative in a county in Gansu's Dingxi City, with 265 of the 287 infected pigs dying. The ministry said the local government had culled all the remaining live pigs in the cooperative and blocked and disinfected the area among its other emergency measures. Live pigs and relevant products have been banned from being transported in and out of the blocked area, it added.

biosecurity method of pressure washing all vehicles entering and leaving a farm

The number of sows in China fell by 38.9 percent in September, after the deadly disease spread to every province in the country. The declines last month were larger than in August when the pig herd shrank by 38.7 percent and sow numbers fell 37.4 percent.

The industry widely believes the decline to be larger than official estimates, although the gap between the two have closed in recent months. Rabobank estimates that the herd has already declined by 50 percent and could fall by 55 percent by the end of the year.

"Next year, especially in the first half, production will go down further," Pan Chenjun, senior analyst at the bank, told Reuters on Friday.

China has issued a series of policies recently aimed at supporting national hog production, as pork prices have surged to record highs after African swine fever hit the world's leading producer of the meat. But while large companies are expanding aggressively, individual farmers are just trying to produce larger pigs instead of expanding their herds, said Pan.

China also stepped up imports of meats including pork and beef in recent months to fill in the protein supply gap in the world's top market.