China’s dairy farming industry has transformed over the last 2 decades and today the main trend is big scale farming.
In 2019 the annual milk production in China was 32 billion kg and according to the ‘China Dairy Industry Statistics 2020’ the 25 largest farming companies of milk delivered 9,4 billion kg of the country’s production or contributed 29%. These farming companies had 1,7 million dairy cattle or on average nearly 68 thousand animals each.
Behind those big numbers of animals per dairy farming company are several dairy farms that range from 1,000 to 20,000 dairy cows. The biggest dairy farming companies are Modern Farming and Youran Farming, with 230,000 animals at 26 farms, while the other boasted 135,000 cows on 40 farms in 2019. Then several dairy farming companies have between 50,000-100,000 cows: Huishan Dairy with 90,000 dairy cows, Shengmu with 67,000 cows, and Saikexing with 65,000 cows in 2019.
The Chifeng AustAsia Modern Farm was the highest yielding dairy farm in China in 2020 with an average yield of 13,654 kg per cow.
When looking at average farm sizes, the AustAsia farms are the largest average size farms with an average stock of 12,291 animals divided on 7 farming operations in different places in China. Then several farming companies have around 8,000 animals, these are Yuansheng Tai, Modern Farming and Fonterra. But the AustAsia Farms are not only the largest on average, they also have the highest average yield, with 12,600 kg per cow per year in 2019. According to new data the Chifeng AustAsia Modern Farm was the highest yielding dairy farm in China in 2020 with an average yield of 13,654 kg per cow whitch is astonishing yield considering that this farm had 12,767 animals in 2020.
Other dairy farming companies, that exceeded the average yield of 11,000 kg per cow in 2019 were: Tianjin Jialihe Animal Husbandry, Youran Farming, Qianjin Farming, Fuyuan International, Hebei Leyuan Farming, and Yuansheng Tai. In 2019, the average yield of the 25 biggest dairy farming companies was 10,2 tonnes of milk per cow compared to the average of 8 tons per cow in China.
This single farm has about 40,000 animals and space for 20.000 adult cows that are milked by 8 rotary milking systems.
China’s single largest dairy farm is the Bengbu Farm in Anhui province that is owned by Modern Farming. This single farm has about 40,000 animals and space for 20,000 adult cows that are milked by 8 rotary milking systems that all are connected to one single tank-room area! Even though this might seem like a huge farm, an even bigger one is under construction and partly operational now in the Inner Mongolia province. This farm will, when it is fully built, house 40,000 dairy cows and become the single largest dairy farm in the world. The total investment in this farm is estimated to be 2,8 billion Chinese Yuan or about €360 million.
Considering the current trend in China, it seems that the farming companies will become even bigger in near future. Leading the way is the company Modern Farming. This company had 233,000 animals in 2019 but according to Modern Farming’s ‘5-Year Leadership Plan’, released in December 2020, the intention is that in 2025 the company should have doubled both the number of animals and milk production to an astonishing 500,000 animals and an annual production of 3,6 billion kg. The company is already well on its way to reach this future goal as it has, since the release of the ‘5-Year Leadership Plan’, taken over the companies Fuyuan International and Zhongyuan Dairy. After the completion of the acquisition of these 2 companies, the total number of animals at Modern Farming will be over 330,000 and the yearly production will exceed 2 billion kg of milk.
Mergers seem to be one of the ways forward for the big Chinese dairy farming companies and in October of 2020 the company Youran Farming acquired the entire equity of the farming operations of Fonterra in China. At that time Fonterra China operated 6 farms in the country with 54,900 animals and these farms were sold to Youran Farming for the price of 2,3 billion Yuan or about €296 million. After the merger, Youran Farming has 67 farms with approximately 308 thousand animals and a milk production of about 1,6 billion kg.
Why big scale farms?
This trend in milk production in China is quite unique but the reason for this should not come as a surprise- as this is a way forward in a country that is in huge demand for dairy products. Benefits of big scale farming are: