Zoetis Breaks New Ground in Sustainable Pork Production

US - IMPROVEST® life cycle assessment and Environmental Product Declaration represents the first to be awarded to an animal health company, according to Zoetis.
calendar icon 20 January 2014
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Zoetis has recently unveiled new research that will help pork producers and meat packers produce wholesome pork with less environmental impact. The research is based on a life cycle assessment (LCA) conducted in the United States for IMPROVEST® (gonadotropin releasing factor analogue – diphtheria toxoid conjugate), an FDA-approved veterinary prescription product that successfully reduces unpleasant odors that can occur when cooking pork from some male pigs.

The LCA found that even modest adoption rates (33 per cent) of IMPROVEST on US pig farms could generate significant environmental benefits.1 This outcome reinforced findings of a Lifecycle Assessment conducted in countries outside the US, which supported the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD®) granted to IMPROVEST issued by the International Environmental Consortium in 2012. The US study was funded by Zoetis and conducted by the University of Arkansas.

“With protein demand growing worldwide, IMPROVEST can help the entire pork supply chain be even more sustainable,” said Gloria Basse, vice president, US Pork Business Unit, Zoetis. “The LCA analysis shows significant reductions in feed, water and land usage associated with use of IMPROVEST.”

This year, a team of environmental experts from the University of Arkansas, The Prasino Group and Life Cycle Engineering analysed US LCA data for IMPROVEST. The analysis found that if one-third of the nation’s pork producers adopted IMPROVEST, the following benefits would result2:

  • Better feed conversion, which could save nearly 60 pounds of feed per hog over physically castrated hogs. That equates to a savings of more than 500,000 tons of feed per year.
  • Improved feed efficiency, which could save 37 pounds of corn and distillers grains and more than 11 pounds of soybean meal per hog, helping to reduce land use by 137,000 acres per year.
  • Reduced water use, by as much as 130 gallons per market hog raised using IMPROVEST, or 2.3 billion gallons per year.
  • Reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, by more than 500,000 tons per year, or the equivalent of eliminating GHG emissions from about 104,000 cars.

IMPROVEST is the first product from an animal health company to qualify for an EPD. It certifies that using IMPROVEST benefits the environment on important indicators such as global warming potential, total energy consumption, resource use and waste generation. It is validated by a third party to ensure relevant and comparable information about its environmental impact.

Using IMPROVEST helps producers capture the inherent advantages of raising intact male pigs. Male pigs are given IMPROVEST in the finishing phase, eliminating the need for physical castration early in life. As a result, male pigs are able to express fully their natural potential for feed-efficient growth, with all the inherent performance advantages of intact males, for the majority of the production cycle.

In August, representatives from Zoetis presented the LCA findings at the Food Marketing Institute’s (FMI) 2013 Sustainability Summit, as part of a session entitled 'Sustainable Livestock Production: A Key Component in Sustainability Strategies'. With the case study of IMPROVEST as its focus, the expert panel connected the impact of this technology to benefits that the food supply chain stands to gain as a result — benefits that range from improved economic and environmental health to improved meat quality.

“The majority of our business is linked to food production, and we believe it’s important to provide knowledge to help our customers as well as other stakeholders to make informed decisions that can enhance their businesses,” said Christi Calhoun, senior manager, Food Chain Outreach, Zoetis. “We are encouraged with these findings and are eager to share these advancements with the entire supply chain.”

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