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Ben Williams

Knowledge Transfer Senior Manager

AHDB Pork Knowledge Exchange

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Life Cycle of Pork Products

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Industrial partners: Environmental Research Management (ERM)

Sponsors: AHDB Pork

Duration: 2008 – 2009 

Aims and objectives

ERM was commissioned to conduct a Life Cycle Assessment Scoping Study (LCA) to compare production systems and provide an understanding of impacts, their scale and where they arise. The modelling study quantified impacts on:

  • Climate change
  • Eutrophication
  • Acidification
  • Abiotic resource depletion associated with pork production to farm gate 

Findings to date

Pig production contributes the most to the environmental profile of pork products; of this phase, feed production makes the largest contribution (78%)

  • Improvements can be achieved by:
  • More pigs per litter
  • Improving feed conversion ratio
  • Reducing sow feed consumption
  • Improving mortality rates
  • Reducing sow culls
  • Anaerobic digestion of slurry leads to significant savings with regard to climate change, eutrophication and acidification
  • The main areas in which improvements to the environmental impact of pork production can be achieved are:
    • Using feed as efficiently as possible
    • Achieving higher numbers of pigs per litter
    • Managing the slurry/manure in ways that reduce its impacts