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Research article2005Peer reviewed

Environmental systems analysis of pig production - The impact of feed choice

Eriksson IS, Elmquist H, Stern S, Nybrant T


Goal, Scope and Method. The purpose of this environmental system analysis was to investigate the impact of feed choice in three pig production scenarios using substance flow models complemented by life cycle assessment methodology. The function of the system studied was to grow piglets of 29 kg to finished pigs of 115 kg. Three alternative scenarios of protein supply were designed, one based on imported soybean meal (scenario SOY); one based on locally grown peas and rapeseed cake (scenario PEA) and one based on Swedish peas and rapeseed meal complemented by synthetic amino acids (scenario SAA). The environmental impact of both feed production as such and the subsequent environmental impact of the feed in the pig production sub-system were analysed. The analysed feed ingredients were barley, wheat, peas, rapeseed meal, rapeseed cake, soybean meal and synthetic amino acids. The crude protein level of the feed affected the nitrogen content in the manure, which in turn affected nitrogen emissions throughout the system and the fertilising value of the manure, ultimately affecting the need for mineral fertiliser application for feed production. Results and Discussion. The results showed that feed production contributed more than animal husbandry to the environmental burden of the system for the impact categories energy use, global warming potential and eutrophication, whereas the opposite situation was the case for acidification. The environmental impacts of scenarios SOY, PEA and SAA were 6.8, 5.3 and 6.3 MJ/kg pig growth; 1.5, 1.3 and 1.4 kg CO2-eq/kg pig growth; 0.55, 0.55 and 0.45 kg O-2-eq/kg pig growth; and 24, 25 and 20 g SO2-eq/kg pig growth, respectively. The results suggested that scenario SAA was environmentally preferable, and that the reason for this was a low crude protein level of the feed and exclusion of soybean meal from the feed. Conclusions. Feed choice had an impact on the environmental performance of pig meat production, not only via the features of the feed as fed to the pigs, such as the crude protein content, but also via the raw materials used, since the environmental impact from the production of these differs and since feed production had a large impact on the system as a whole


Crude protein; feed production; growing-finishing pigs; pig production; soybean meal; synthetic amino acids; system analysis

Published in

International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
2005, Volume: 10, number: 2, pages: 143-154