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Date:   29 April, 2011  
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs & rabbits
Dr Sing's Travel Stories
My Hainan Pig Farm Tour
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
Date:   29 April, 2011  
Visit to Hainan in 2008. 
Be Kind To Pets
Veterinary Education
Project 2010-0129
I graduated in 1974, at a time when Singapore had small pig farms in Changi, Sembawang, Lim Chu Kang, Chua Chu Kang and Yio Chu Kang and worked for around 7.5 years in the Primary Production Department (PPD). One of my postings was as a veterinary extension officer of the PPD (now called Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority, AVA).  I had an 8-year bond with the PPD and I knew I had no chance to practise small animal medicine and surgery. I believe almost all vets dream of practising small animal medicine and surgery when they enter veterinary school but many of the PPD vets are frustrated as their 8-year-bond with the PPD binds them to food producing animal practice. 

The PPD had a small animal clinic at Kampong Java Road called The Animal Infirmary. The site is now occupied by the Kandang Kerbau Hospital. Initially, it had one lady veterinarian and then another lady who decided to be a Citibanker. Later, it had two male vets who worked a while and started their private practice.

The priority of the PPD in the 1970s and now is food animals, not dogs and cats. Veterinarians were sent overseas to come home to serve the 8-year bond with the PPD doing the practice of pigs and chickens. There were around two private veterinary clinics treating dogs and cats in the early 1970s as contrasted to over 45 clinics in 2011. 

As a 20-year-old vet with no hope of paying off my $40,000 bond, I immersed myself in the practice of avian and porcine veterinary medicine. I was paid around $1,000 per month. 7 years of avian and porcine veterinary medicine was an eye opener for a young graduate. Not much surgery. Mainly medicine.

I went to visit pig farms in Hainan in 2008 because a self-employed Singaporeans who is good at marketing real estate asked me to visit his client's pig farms. "AVA is importing pork from China and we can be the sole exclusive marketing agent for my Hainanese business man who has just started 3 pig farms and is expanding. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to supply the AVA pork! My client is looking for an investor."

Haikou Airport. Tiger Airways is only direct Singapore-Hainan flight in Mar 2008. Toa Payoh VetsI had never been to Hainan before and if you ask me to go shopping and sight-seeing in Hainan, I don't want to do it. But a pig farm visit interested me very much. I resigned from the PPD around 26 years ago and a pig farm visit interested me a lot. Are there new developments in porcine veterinary medicine that I can apply to small animal medicine and surgery?  A chance to see the real Hainan, not the touristy spots. To see the rural areas and the way of life of the ordinary people in villages. To experience, know and understand another country by travelling far away from the shopping malls. So, I took leave to tour the 3 big Hainanese pig farms.

I asked a Singapore city girl to come along. "See Hainan, the Florida of China. Sunshine State of the East," I said.

At the airport, our taxi had a squirrel inside. The poor creature was trying to get out of the moving taxi but could not know how. Hopped to the back, scampered on the floor and back to the front and back. Julia seemed worried that the squirrel might bite her legs. "The squirrel will not bite you," I advised. Finally, it managed to hop out of the window and onto the roof of the taxi. 

It is not a good idea for this Singapore girl to visit the pig farms. The stench of the pig environment was over-powering. She avoided the open-air latrine in the pig farm as it was a pit in the ground. My marketing friend was immune to all the smells of pig poo and pee. I am OK with the smells of the pig farms and the countryside.  

Nowadays, there are no real pig farms in Singapore and so the following pictures may be of interest to the young Singaporeans. Some young ones say that pork comes from supermarkets, but the real source is the pig farms overseas.
tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)1189. The oldest taxi in Haikou, Hainan with black curtains on railings in the 4 windows. tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)1190. A squirrel inside my Haikou taxi makes my Singapore lady friend nervous. 
Haikou's commercial district permits street vendors Haikou's upscale waterfront condo area. A betel nut seller. Toa Payoh Vets
tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)1191. Street vendors along downtown. No steps on the side of the overhead bridge (so bicycles can be used). tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)1192. Street vendors along downtown. No steps on the side of the overhead bridge (so bicycles can be used).
Hainan is the Florida of China. Toa Payoh Vets Haikou, Hainan, China. A Cow and ducks in a small farm by the river. Toa Payoh Vets
tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)1193. Mild weather and sunshine in Hainan in March 2008, making it the Florida of China. A father takes his son home from school. tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)1194.  A beautiful farm land in rural Haikou, Hainan, China now more existing in Singapore.  
Hainan gilts, Toa Payoh Vets Hainan boars, China, Toa Payoh Vets
tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)1195. Gilts are young female pigs.  A modern pig farm in Hainan/ tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)1196. Boars
Pregnant sows, Hainan, China. Toa Payoh Vets
tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)1197. Artificial insemination - 2 methods - manual and the blue catheter (right) which releases semen after insertion. tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)1198. Meal diet and vitamin supplementation. Farm has own feed processing.

tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)1199. Around 115 days to give birth. The breed of pigs appears to be similar to the ones I saw some 20 years ago at Ponggol's big pig farms!

Hainan piglets, modern pig farm in China. Toa Payoh Vets Piglets to be weaned at 3-4 weeks, Hainan. Toa Payoh Vets
tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)1200. Piglets take 3-4 weeks to be weaned. Water bowl in front of stall. tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)1201. Good-sized piglets. Uniform size and weight indicates excellent management
Two Large White Weaners bullying Duroc?  Hainan Pig Farm, China. Toa Payoh Vets Young boars, Hainan, China pig farming. Toa Payoh Vets.
tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)1202. Temperature control of the pen is important for weaners as they chill easily. tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)1203. Some boars will be for sale. Tail biting is still a problem in intensive pig production!
Gilts, Hainan, China pig farming. Toa Payoh Vets Growing and finishing pigs. Hainan, China. Toa Payoh Vets
tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)1204. Daily washing of pens and pigs is important. Gilts (young females) kept together and ear-tagged. tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)1205. Growing and finishing pigs.
Similar age and weight pigs permits more efficient phase & split-sex feeding. Hainan finishing pigs.  Toa Payoh Vets Pigs transport to slaughterhouse. Hainan, China. Toa Payoh Vets
tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)1206. Finishing pigs. Barrows (neutered males) in a pen.   tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)1207. Hogs are pigs near market weight.
Haikou, China. Pig stools and urine handled by modern waste management methods. Toa Payoh Vets As for being the sole exclusive marketing agent for Hainanese pork, the AVA does not approve import of pork from Hainan.

My marketer friend finds it more lucrative to sell Singapore condos to his foreigner contacts. His pig-farmer client entrusts him with bigger deals in oil. No small selling of one condo. He has an extensive network and closes an oil deal for his client recently.

In any case, the demand for pork is insatiable in China. Why export to Singapore when home demand cannot be met? I am not keen to be a pork importer in any case as it is not my cup of tea.    
tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)1208. Pig waste goes to the 2 tanks.
AVA's education of Singaporeans. Save money by buying frozen meat (pork) than chilled ones. Toa Payoh Vets.
Back to the mundane Singapore's urban life. All pig farms and some chicken farms must be banned due to the public complaints of smelly air in the neighbourhood. The picture (left) show the AVA promoting frozen pork said to be around 50% cheaper than chilled pork which is traditionally bought by Singaporeans. 

Dr Sing's Travel Stories


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