April 14, 2021

Interpretive Summary: Economic and environmental assessments of combined genetics and nutrition optimization strategies to improve the efficiency of sustainable pork production

Interpretive Summary: Economic and environmental assessments of combined genetics and nutrition optimization strategies to improve the efficiency of sustainable pork production

By Anne Zinn

Improvement in feed efficiency in pigs can be achieved through genetic selection and diet formulation tailored to the animal’s requirements. Various approaches, alone or combined, have led to the emergence of different feed efficiency scenarios for better production sustainability and have been the subject of independent research. A study recently published in the Journal of Animal Science evaluated the economic and environmental impacts of these strategies that incorporated selection for pig feed:gain and dietary optimization based on a single or multiple objectives tailored to meet the population’s nutritional requirements, with the goal to optimize sustainable farm feed efficiency. Individual deterministic bio-economic and life cycle assessment  models were used to quantify the economic and environmental costs of different optimization options combining diets and pig genetics. Performing individual assessments also provided  insights into the correlations between production traits, profit, and environmental impacts, which can be used for further optimization of selection and management of pig production systems.

Results of the present study demonstrate that tailored diet optimization effectively improves environmental impacts and farm productivity and solidified that combining genetic selection for feed efficiency and tailored diet optimization is a promising way to make pig production more sustainable and more efficient. The normalization to net energy of animal nutritional requirements, diet prices, environmental impacts, and nutritional characteristics of ingredients provides consistency in the overall optimization procedure and could be considered in further precision farming developments.

The full paper can be found on the Journal of Animal Science  webpage.