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China’s Pig Herd to Recover
in 2020 After African
Swine Fever Devastation

(Reuters) – China's hog production capacity should bottom out before the end of 2019 after outbreaks of African swine fever decimated the world's biggest pig herd, an official said on Thursday, forecasting a return to usual pig numbers in 2020.

Inventories at large farms have already started to rebound, according to Yang Zhenhai, director of the Husbandry and Veterinary Bureau of China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, speaking at a briefing on Thursday.

The year-long pig epidemic has slashed China's pig herd by at least 40% from a year earlier, and pushed prices of the country's favorite meat to record high levels.

“Various supporting policies and market factors have helped boost confidence in (pig) farming significantly, and enthusiasm for production among small and big farmers is further improving,” Yang said.

Beijing has issued a series of measures recently to support national hog production, and boost supplies of other meats to guarantee protein supplies for the world's largest population.

The official said pig production has recovered rapidly at farms that slaughter more than 5,000 pigs a year. Inventories at those farms reached 44.4551 million animals in September, up 0.6% from the previous month, while September sow herds climbed 3.7% from August to 6.1047 million head.

China had pig inventories of 428 million animals by end of 2018, according to official data.

Major producing provinces including Henan, Shandong, and Liaoning also saw a considerable pick-up in pig inventories in September compared with the previous month, Yang added.

Production and sales of pig feed have also rebounded strongly, Yang added, with output of hog feed up 10% in September from the previous month.

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