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Volunteers for pig sustainability project wanted

5th Jun 2019 / By Alistair Driver

Pig farmers are being urged to volunteer to take part in a research project to develop a novel way to assess the sustainability of pork production.

Newcastle uni pigs

The project is being run by Newcastle University, which is aiming to produce data to enable producers to benchmark their sustainability levels against others and to produce a 'sustainability app'.

The team at Newcastle hope to recruit 25 pig farms from across the UK to take part and provide data on aspects of financial & environmental performance, as well as permit observation of selected groups of pigs. The audit will take no more than three hours, and all data will be anonymised before being processed.

The 2019 Sustainability survey is shorter than the pilot one we ran last year. The survey involves:

  • An interview with the Owner/Senior manager (approx two hrs, covering aspects of financial & environmental performance)
  • Observation of sows and piglets on a breeding site
  • Observation of weaners/finishers (ideally progeny from the breeding site - for biosecurity reasons, these animal  observations can be split over two days).

The Universitys Jonathan Guy, who is leading the project, said the aim was to take into account all aspects of the sustainability of production, not just animal welfare and environmental impacts that are often at the forefront of media items on sustainability. The research will also cover the social well-being of being a pig farmer, such as the level of stress and achieving a healthy work/life balance, as well as financial stability, as remaining profitable is key to any sustainable supply chain, he added.

Farmers taking part in the survey will be given their individual sustainability results, as well as comparison to other farms taking part in the survey so they can benchmark their sustainability credentials. Participants will also be given their own free copy of the integrated Pork Sustainability app to keep and use in the future when evaluating the consequences of possible changes in their production system.

If you are interested in taking part, then please contact Jonathan Guy at Newcastle University on 0191 208 6901 (jonathan.guy@newcastle.ac.uk), or download the information here.

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