'Happy Farm' Online Game Inspires Eco-friendly Pig Cottages

If you're going to live high off the hog, it helps to actually BE a hog... at least, for a little while. A pilot pig farm project in eastern China's Jiangsu Province has already built over 500 of an estimated 2,500 “pig villas” that will house hogs in clean, spacious, environmentally-friendly luxury.

The project is part of a comprehensive development plan that seeks to better utilize old channels of the Yellow River. These disused channels encompass a vast area of up to 30,000 acres which has been targeted by authorities of Suining County as the ideal location for agriculture and agri-tourism.

According to Chen Yiqing, who owns an agricultural tourism garden shaded by Banyan trees, inspiration for the luxurious pig farm came from the hugely popular online game “Happy Farm”. Shovels hit the dirt last February and the first pigs moved in within weeks.

Farmers and residents in Suining County have questioned the unusually expansive accommodations, dismissing them as an overly expensive “paradise for pigs” but there's a method to county authorities perceived madness. “These are not villas,” explained Hu Juchun, director of the Suining County Agricultural Committee, “they're model breeding zones, as part of a project to develop breeding techniques for organic pigs.”

The pigs are deemed organic because no antibiotics are fed to them. This is possible because the floors of the pig houses are a black, powdery mixture of wheat bran, rice husks and sawdust. The medium acts as a natural fermentation bed that encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria that safely digest and decompose pig waste.

Not only are the pigs cleaner, disease-free and drug-free, the problem of waste disposal is nipped in the bud while saving human effort at the same time. What waste remains along with used-up bedding can be used to create bio-gas with the byproducts helping to cultivate flowers and fertilize organic vegetables.

Of course, there's a dark side to living high off the hog, IF you're a hog: these little piggies go to market eventually. As a consequence of their short but happy lives, however, “having the pigs in a good mood is believed to improve the quality of their meat.” If you're gonna put pork on your fork, maybe try a silver spoon instead. (via Want China Times and China Whisper