October 22, 2008


Intensive pig production greener than previously thought


Intensive pig farming, often derided as a drain of energy and ultimately unsustainable, may be greener than outdoor pig keeping, according to a director of a monitoring company in the UK.


Managing director of Reading-based control and monitoring company, Farmex Hugh Crabtree was speaking at a farmer meeting organised by the Larkmead Veterinary Group in Oxfordshire.


Going green means saving energy, which comes in the form of feed, says Crabtree. When farms have high feed conversion ratios, they are saving energy, he implied.


Feed efficiency is very important in reducing the environmental impact of pig production, he added.


He noted that the energy cost of feed outweighs the prime energy (electricity and gas) used in pig production- it costs 1kWH to create a single kg of pigmeat, but cereals cost 0.5-2.0 kWh per kg before they are even delivered as feed.


At an FCR of 3:1, this might add a further 6 kWh per kg of pigmeat produced. Outdoor pigs use more feed than their indoor-reared counterparts, he said.


Since intensive farms save energy, there could be a case to be argued for retailers to pay a premium for efficiency, instead of a premium for welfare or organic, he suggested.


Hugh Crabtree suggested that achievable targets in the finishing house were a daily liveweight gain of 850 grammes, a feed conversion of 2.3 and a two percent reduction in mortality.


Evidence from 'the field' had show that new housing with good environmental controls could improve returns dramatically.

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