“This network gathers top research knowledge on nutrition and feed efficiency. Whereas Norway is in the forefront on research on pigs and nutrition, this consortium enables us to widen our research scope. For our industry partners in FeedMileage and Foods of Norway, I believe it will be an advantage that we now are part of this top level consortium”, Øverland says.
Top final score
The objective of the ERA-Net scheme is to improve coherence and coordination of research and to enable national systems to take on tasks collectively that they would not have been able to tackle independently. The “SusPig” application was one of 14 applications out of 29 submitted proposals approved. Based on three criteria: ‘Excellence”, ‘Impact’ and ‘Quality and Efficiency of Implementation’, the “SusPig” application had a final score of 11,8 out of 14.
“This indicates the high quality of the consortium”, Øverland concludes.
Sustainability of pig production through improved feed efficiency
Improving the efficiency of pigs to transform local, low quality feed into meat improves resource use to reduce waste and enhance the environmental sustainability of European Animal Production.
Feed efficiency is critically important in pig production. Feed accounts for up to 85% of total production costs and feed associated activities are responsible for a significant part of the environmental impact. Sustainable pig production is characterized by economic profitability through improvement of productive output, while maintaining animal health and welfare, and without compromising environmental resources. This emphasizes the need to assess feed efficiency and sustainability of its improvement at different scales.
Need for a different type of pigs?
Feed efficiency and robustness can be sustained with more reliance on local feed resource, or whether selecting for a new pig genotype is more desirable.
At the animal level, improved feed efficiency may result in a mismatch between energy input from feed, and energy output to production and vital metabolic functions. Pigs may become less robust with compromised behavior, physiology and immunological functions. This may in particular affect sustainability of pig production and farm profitability on low quality feeds. However, at the regional and national production level, sustainability may be enhanced by improving the efficiency of pigs to transform local, low quality feed into meat. This may require a different type of pig than those currently selected in intensive high quality input – high output production systems.