China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said on Friday it will implement stricter controls on the slaughter and transport of pigs following the outbreak last week of African swine fever.
The statement comes after China reported its first outbreak of the deadly disease last week in the northeastern province of Liaoning.
The ministry said it would ban pigs in any areas affected by the disease from being transported elsewhere, in line with steps introduced last week near Liaoning’s capital, Shenyang.
Some 913 hogs were slaughtered near Shenyang, capital of Liaoning, and the outbreak had been effectively contained, the provincial animal health bureau said earlier.
The ministry said the infection was discovered last Wednesday on a small farm with a herd of 383 pigs in Shenbei New district in Shenyang and was confirmed last Friday. Some 47 pigs died from the disease.
The appearance of the disease is the latest blow to Chinese hog farmers, who have been struggling with a prolonged rout as years of frenzied investment to boost production have created oversupply, with output well beyond stagnating domestic demand.
A widespread outbreak and major culling would help remove some of the excess but it may also damage demand just as China prepares for a pick up in consumption during the week-long Mid Autumn holiday in October.
China is home to about half of the global pig population, with thousands of backyard and large-scale farms operating in the northern, central and southern regions. It produces about half of the world’s pork and is the top consumer of the meat.
Smallhold farmers are less likely to have safety standards or biosecurity in place to protect against the disease. A big wild boar population can also make an area more vulnerable to infection, experts say.