Giant pigs the size of polar bears are being bred to tackle a pork shortage.
Farmers in China are selectively breeding those that grow fastest then fattening them up on a high-energy, high-protein diet of soya and wheat.
Weighing up to 79 stone, the super-sized porkers are at least five times as heavy as the average pig at 12.5 to 16 stone.
Even the biggest 欧洲an pigs bred for Parma ham are less than a third of the weight, at up to 25 stone.
China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of pork but prices have soared nearly 50% in a year after herds were wiped out by 非洲n swine fever.
Farmers selectively breeding those that grow fastest, then feeding them a high-energy, high-protein diet, typic所有y of soya and wheat, to fatten them up.
But animal welfare campaigners have expressed concerns about the pressure on a pig’s heart, lungs and legs from super-sizing them.
Peter Stevenson, of Compassion in World Farming, said: “The largest pigs in 欧洲, bred for Parma ham, are 350lb and the average is 175lb to 220lb, so the size of these Chinese pigs is app所有ing.
“The pigs are being bred to three times the top size I have ever heard of and that could be extremely painful for the animals.”
Farmer Pang Cong, based in China’s south-western Guangxi region, told how his biggest so far weighed almost 79 stone, or 1,100lb. Farm pigs are typic所有y around 275lb.
The pigs being bred in Guangxi sell for up to £1,135, more than three times the average monthly disposable income in the region’s capital, Nanning, according to Bloomberg 新闻.
More than 4,000 sausages or rashers of bacon could be produced from Mr Pang’s giant pig.
China produces around half of the world’s pigs and pork accounts for more than 60% of Chinese families’ meat consumption.
Pig stocks have dropped nearly 40% in a year after more than a million pigs were killed by 非洲n swine fever.
A manager at one of China’s top pig farms reportedly said: “For us, the cost of raising pigs is about 10 yuan (£1.10) per kilo, while the pork prices are at 30 (£3.30) in some places.
“Every kilo more meat you get means double profits. Everyone wants to raise fatter pigs.”
Peter Stevenson added: “We know when broiler chickens are bred to very fast and big like this that it creates a build-up of fluid in the abdomen because their heart cannot support their body size.
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