Formulating low-cost and low-carbon, water, and land footprint swine diets

Jasmina Burek, University of Arkansas
Greg Thoma, University of Arkansas
Rick Ulrich, University of Arkansas
Jennie Popp, University of Arkansas
Charles Maxwell, University of Arkansas

Historically, minimizing the cost of diet has been primary goal for the farmer. Due to environmental concerns environmental performance of feed and formulated diets has become important. In the US current formulations of swine diets contribute more than 50 % to carbon footprint (CF), and more than 90 % to water (WF) and land footprint (LF) in cradle-to-farm gate assessment (Thoma et. al. 2011). The purpose of modelling low-cost, low-CF, WF, and LF swine diets is their integration into swine production environmental calculator. The modelling of low cost CF, WF, and LF was performed using Windows-based User Friendly Feed Formulation (WUFFDA) (2004). WUFFFDA model whose main purpose is to formulate animal diets with minimum cost was extended to calculate minimum CF, WF, and LF. Feed ingredient prices, CF, WF, and LF were collected in a single database from various sources: Earthshift (2011), Adom et al., (2013), etc. Nutrient composition of feeds was taken from NRC (2012). Currently, the low cost and environmental metrics were modelled using WUFFFDA model default nutrient requirements and constraints for swine diets. Maximum inclusion rates were modified according to Swine nutrition guide (Reese et al., 2010). Feed formulations for reference swine diet scenario were obtained by the nutritionist. The energy sources considered in the example included corn grain, poultry fat, and milk whey and lactose. Protein sources considered included fish meal (FM), soybean meal (SBM). In addition minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and antibiotics were also preselected by nutritionist. The reference scenario includes 7 different phases in swine growth and typical swine diets with amounts provided by the nutritionist. The preliminary result for one swine feed phase has showed that with the same ingredient composition it is possible to minimize CF by 20 % from reference scenario and LF by 54 % but this will increase the cost of diet by 13 %. It should be noted that these findings have to be further justified by growth model and nutritionists.


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Thoma, G., Nutter, D., Ulrich, R., Maxwell, C., Frank, J., East, C., 2011. National Life Cycle Carbon Footprint Study for Production of US Swine