Survey of Current Swiss Pig Feeding Practices and Potential for Ammonia Emission Reduction

A survey in Switzerland reveals that ammonia emissions from pig production could be reduced at low cost, in particular, by lowering crude protein levels in feeds for finishers and dry sows.
calendar icon 25 November 2014
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Controlling potentially harmful and polluting emissions from farms is important in the developed world, where legislation exists in many countries limiting emissions such as ammonia and controlling how manure is disposed of from intensive farming operations, according to a paper in Journal of Applied Animal Nutrition.

P. Spring of Berne University of Applied Sciences and A. Bracher from Agroscope explain that, in Switzerland, there are legal agreements concerning controls of ammonia emissions, most especially from farms. Ammonia production from pig farms can be controlled by dietary intervention, such as reducing protein levels, which in turn reduces excretion, mainly via urine.

Their paper surveys current practices for nitrogen use on Swiss pig farms, and how feeding strategies may assist in controlling ammonia production from pig production systems.

The survey found that 70 to 75 per cent of all feeds used for pigs of all categories were reduced in protein and nitrogen, with 90 per cent being reduced in protein in high animal density areas.

Regression analysis showed that crude protein levels explained up to 49 per cent of the nitrogen efficiency, suggesting that other factors are important in pollution control.

Although piglet diets are more tightly regulated in terms of controlling nitrogen input, excessive protein levels in so-called reduced protein diets for finisher pigs and dry sows are common in the market.

Spring and Bracher conclude that there is considerable potential to reduce nitrogen input and ammonia emissions from Swiss pig production, which could be implemented at no or minimal extra cost.


Spring P. and A. Bracher. 2014. Survey of current Swiss pig feeding practices and potential for ammonia emission reduction. Journal of Applied Animal Nutrition. 2:e9

Further Reading

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November 2014

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