One of the biggest pig production farms in Eastern Ukraine has suffered major destruction during the past year of the Russian invasion and the subsequent war. The farm has vowed to rebuild.
It will take around € 18 million to rebuild and restock the farm business, Agrocomplex Slobozhansky, which was under Russian occupation for 7 months in the war that started in late February 2022. The farm owners have kept a diary log of how the war affected the farm, detailing their losses of animals, buildings and money.
Agrocomplex Slobozhansky is based in the Chuguevsky district of Kharkiv region and consists of 2 main production sites. The first site is home to a sow unit in the village of Ivanivka. It extends to an area of about 40 ha. Before the war started, this farm housed 3,400 sows and 28,000 piglets and feeder pigs.
The second farm, called Promzona, is a finishing unit in Chkalovske, which is just 12 km from Ivanivka. This was quite a modern facility with 42 separate barns, a feed mill, crematorium, slaughterhouse and administrative buildings. Although the full capacity of Promzona is 55,000 head, before the invasion there were just 29,000 pigs there.
The Promzona complex was built in 1971 to supply meat to Kharkiv. During the period 2010 to 2012, it was completely reconstructed using modern Big Dutchman machinery and equipment. The company’s feed mill was equipped by Skiold.
The company also grows crops on 6,500 ha and has its own grain storage complex.
Between 4 March 2022 and the beginning of September 2022, Russian troops occupied the entire farm. A spokesperson for the farm, who preferred not to be named for security reasons, said: “Since mid-April, Chkalovske and Ivanivka were in the front line of Russian fire. This meant the farm faced constant shelling and the surrounding roads were blocked, making supply of critical inputs and shipment of pigs out impossible.
“Another problem was a shortage of personnel due to displacement. Therefore, we had to choose priority groups of animals to keep. Due to heavy shelling on 23 April 2022, the entire occupied region lost all its power network.
“Farms began to use diesel generators, and the drinking and feeding systems were only run a few hours a day to save diesel. Pigs on both farms began to die due to lack of water and feed.”
On 13 May 2022, shelling destroyed the feed mill and barns close it. Farm workers started grinding grains with self-made grinders to produce feed for the pigs.
During the following months, 34 of the 42 facilities on the finishing site and 4 of the 20 barns at the Ivanivka farm were damaged by artillery and shelling. The elevator complex was totally destroyed as well.
The farm lost 63,000 pigs worth about 170 million hryvnia (€ 4.3 million), that died due to starvation, diseases and shelling. A total of 38 facilities (about 160,000 m2), 7 warehouses and elevator premises with a value of 167.5 million hryvnia (€ 4.27 million) were damaged.
Equipment of pig farms, elevators and transport facilities were destroyed, damaged or stolen with a value of 127.6 million hryvnia (€ 3.26 million). In addition, a total of 17 vehicles were stolen valued at 5.5 million hryvnia (€ 140,000). Loss of winter wheat that could not be harvested on 2,900 ha was valued at 16 million hryvnia (€ 410,000). Loss of stored grain that was destroyed had a value of 80 million hryvnia (€ 2 million). The company estimates its direct losses total more than 567 million hryvnia (€ 18 million).
The spokesperson said: “Now that the region has been freed from Russian troops, the farm currently has 1,300 breeding pigs. Around 7,000 other pigs in terrible condition. Many of the barns have no windows, and there are holes left by shells in a number of the roofs.
“The unit at Ivanivka is less damaged and will operate as a farrow-to-finish facility. There is an intention to grow the number of pigs up to 20,000 sows by July 2023. Our company will attract all possible resources to reconstruct the barns, feed mill and elevator as it is an important supplier of meat in the region,” he added.