A study from the Cooperative Research Centre for High Integrity Australian Pork, set up to drive down environmentally-damaging emissions, has revealed that shifting to sustainable livestock housing could limit the carbon footprint of pork producers.
The study, published on 4 July, revealed that greenhouse gases (GHGs) are 38% lower in eco-shelters – pig housing facilitates designed with environmental concerns at their heart.
It is the first study on GHGs in Australia’s pork production chain to use a life-cycle assessment (LCA) model. It benchmarks emissions across the full production system – from feed to housing, manure management and meat processing.
Researchers analysed 14 production sites in Australia over 12 months and the study was managed by Stephen Wiedemann on behalf of Australia’s pig meat levy board, Pork CRC.
“Pork CRC’s Bioenergy Support Program has helped drive quite a move towards on-farm biogas capture and power generation, and I expect GHG emissions to decline substantially over time,” said Pork CRC CEO Dr Roger Campbell in a press statement.
“Also interesting was [the] finding that for similar manure management systems, 88% of the variability in GHG could be predicted from differences in herd-to-feed conversion (HFC), making it the most important production related indicator of GHG emissions.”
Results show that some pork producers have environmental management under control, while some have a “some way to go," according to Dr Campbell.
“These results show that HFC also influences carbon emissions from pork production, so it’s a double whammy when also considering HFC’s profitability upside and clearly more needs to be done to reduce feed waste and improve HFC.”