SusPig: how sustainable is your pig feed?

SusPig, a three-year project coordinated under a European Research Area Network, looks to test the efficiency and sustainability of pig production systems with a focus on alternative pig feeds.
calendar icon 29 March 2018
clock icon 3 minute read

The long-term goal of the research network is to enhance the sustainability of European pig production through improved feed efficiency at varying scales, with the following objectives:

  1. Develop tools to evaluate the consequence of improved feed efficiency for behaviour, physiology and immunological functions that can be used to improve robustness through genetic selection.
  2. Evaluate if improved feed efficiency and animal robustness can be sustained with more reliance on local feed resources and feedstuff co-products or if a different type of animal is required.
  3. Evaluate the environmental and social impact, and economic viability of improved feed efficiency on local feed resources and feedstuff co-products.
  4. Based on the obtained results, to develop future sustainable pig production systems.


Sustainable pig production is characterised by economic profitability through improved productive output, while maintaining animal health and welfare, and without compromising environmental resources.

This study aims to enhance sustainability of European pig production through improved feed efficiency (FE) at different scales. We approach this by: 1) Evaluation of robustness traits in experimental and commercial pigs; 2) Evaluation of FE and robustness in response to feedstuff co-products and local pig diets; 3) Assessment of the environmental and social impact of pig production as enhanced by transforming low quality feed, through Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) analysis; and 4) Modelling of future sustainable production systems.

This project combines the expertise of European research groups in cooperation with those from the USA and Australia through a multidisciplinary approach. The work is relevant to research area 1: FE affects profitability of animal production through reduced feed costs, but economic benefits are also directly influenced by animal robustness. Efficient use of local resources may improve the productivity, resilience and competitiveness of European pig production. Research area 2: Improving FE of pigs in transforming low quality feed may improve local resource use and enhance the environmental sustainability of European pig production; and research Area 3: Understanding the implications of improving FE on animal robustness may improve animal welfare, breeding strategies and consumer acceptance of pig production and breeding practices.

Click here to learn more about SusPig and related projects

Emily Houghton

Editor, The Pig Site

Emily Houghton is a Zoology graduate from Cardiff University and was the editor of The Pig Site from October 2017 to May 2020. Emily has worked in livestock husbandry, and has written, conducted and assisted with research projects regarding the synthesis of welfare and productivity of free-range food species.

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