On March 26th 2017 at Jishanxiang, Anji country, Zhejiang province. A black pig at NetEase Weiyang Modern Agricultural Park.
Ding Lei originally announced his pig business in 2009 and ever since that this decision had been controversial and questioned by many. After seven years of development, NetEase Weiyang’s first pig farm entered production in 2016, with an annual output of 20,000. At the end of 2016, NetEase black pig was officially on sale.
NetEase Weiyang brought forth the 4th generation cultivation: catering to consumers’ demand for food security, taste, and price while keeping the cultivation clean and non-polluting to the environment as well as caring for the animals’ benefits in the mass production farm. It benefits consumers, the pigs and the environment at the same time. According to NetEase Weiyang, the first pig farm in Anji has fulfilled the mentioned goals and this model will be soon introduced to other places.
In March 2017, Ding Lei started to crowdfund for its Weiyang pig business. It took him only three days to complete his goal of getting a ￥10 million investment in 20 days. On March 28th, NetEase showcased its pig farm live online.
Before the publicity, TMTPost’s Photo Gallery column was able to visit NetEase Weiyang’s pig farm exclusively.
“The extreme taste,” this is what Weiyang means in Chinese. Before settling in Anji, NetEase had asked many experts to survey 48 regions in Zhejiang province to assess the environment and transportation condition etc. to find a home for the pig farm. Eventually, the pig farm was set in Anji, a small county that had been awarded the Habitat Scroll of Honor Award by United Nations. “If we could successfully implement our plan here in Anji, a country with such a strict environment standard, then this model can be applied in other places as well,” a relevant insider at Weiyang told TMTPost.
Looking from the map, this 1200 mu pig farm only uses 120 mu of it space to cultivate pigs, with the rest of the place planned for vegetation like bamboos, Chinese chestnuts, and tea farms etc. to purify air and prevent diseases and pollutions from entering the zone.
Every car will be sterilized at two sterilization areas before entering the cultivation zone. The sterilization area has two underground pressure sensors. When a vehicle carrying materials and pigs are going through, eights sprayers will perform sterilization on the vehicle. “In general, a pig farm only has a sterilization area. Weiyang has two. Pigs here don’t consume antibiotics, so we have to be extra careful.”
To prevent germs and viruses from entering, visitors would have to put up a protection suit and go through a decontamination hall that adopts ultrasound atomizing sterilization technology before entering the cultivation zone. The decontamination hall has a bathroom on the side. Technicians here at the cultivation zone are required to take a shower before and after work.
Every pig farm here adopts the double-ceiling structure. On top sits the clerestory. The clerestory works with the double ceiling, which can keep the pig farm cool in summer and warm in winter with an AC. The system also circulates the air. When the temperature inside is dropping low, the clerestory will push the warm air kept in the double ceiling to the room to maintain the temperature. If the pig farm is too hot in summer, the clerestory will open and send out the hot air to cool down the pig farm.
Weiyang’s pig farm has a solar panel every six meters on the ceiling which prevents heat and let in the ultraviolet ray. This mechanism maintains the temperature indoor and kills germs as well.
Black pigs inside Weiyang pig farm. In traditional cultivation farms, it generally takes five to six months or shorter to raise a pig and put it out in the market. But pigs at Weiyang take ten months. “Traditional cultivation business model serves the pig sales, and therefore the pig raisers only want to sell more pigs to their clients. In this case, they generally count on the days and hope to make more money in the cultivation cycle,” Weiyang’s staff explained. NetEase directly provides pig products for its customers, and therefore it has to be responsible for the taste of the pork. Besides the pig breed and pig feed, the cultivation period is also crucial to the taste of the pigs.
By studying animal behaviors and redesigning traditional pig farms, NetEase Weiyang has achieved the goal of designated excretion and collection. Thanks to that, the pigs are able to eat, excrete and rest in separate places, which keeps the farm clean and decrease the pigs’ chances of becoming sick.
Weiyang’s pig farm is covered entirely by WiFi network. The pig farm is also equipped with speakers that play music from NetEase Music in different time. The playlist includes music that wakes the pigs, and music that improve their appetite, and sleep etc. The farm is hoping to use music to keep the pigs happy and relaxed.
The processing of pig waste has always been a difficult challenge for pig farms. NetEase’s research institute in the country developed a processing system that proves crucial in Weiyang’s environmental friendly waste processing mechanism. When the pig waste has been transferred to the processing center, the pig waste is first dehydrated, and the solid substances, almost without any smell, will be used for fertilizing after being processed.
Weiyang pig farm technicians explained to TMTPost that the liquid from the pig waste dehydration will undergo three processing procedures. And the quality of the processed liquid even passes the standards for city circulation water. “The processed pig waste is used in the vegetation zone. And the processed water can be used for water circulation in the pig farm, such as washing the farm and watering the plants etc.,” says Weiyang.
The liquid pig feed storage room(right) connects with the nurturing room(left) via a liquid feed system. The liquid feed of Weiyang’s black pig farm is special. Besides standard corns and beans etc., there are also greed feed and fresh produces etc. inside that help the pigs digest and lower the chance of having respiratory diseases. Liquid pig feed system is programmed to allocate the feed everyday. It precisely controls the feed volume. Just one wall away stands the staff’s dorm.
This dormitory is called the modular dorm, reconstructed from containers. When you walk around the pig farm, you don’t even notice any of the stinky smell like what you will smell in a traditional pig farm. The staff only live a wall away from the pig farm and they are not affected by any smell at all.
Next to the modular dorm there is a very old house that was once home to a forest keeper. Weiyang’s management staff told TMTPost that they reserved this old house and it would be rebuilt into a café.
The processed pig waste is used for fertilizing the vegetation along the road.
The tea garden also utilizes the pig waste organic fertilizer. “Besides using for our own gain, we also sell some to nearby high-end tea growers.”
Oilseed rapes grow wildly on the hill alongside the road to NetEase Weiyang Pig Farm Innovation Research Center. This was once a deserted land. The cultivation staff will plant different crops here to improve the soil with fertilizer. “We not only utilize the waste produced by the pigs, but also grow something we can enjoy.”
The staff dorm, meeting room, and dining hall zone. This pig farm has over ten pig cultivation staff, six of which are professional technicians who are in charge of managing the 20,000 pigs. Their work includes immunization, feeding formula and plan, management data generation, environment protection, cultivation system and pig breed etc. For NetEase, the development of cultivation techniques and technologies of pigs is similar to the development of Internet products. “NetEase Weiyang is hoping to make innovations on food safety and model and encourage the industry to continue innovate.”
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[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @flybutchery, please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]
Translated by Garrett Lee (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.