Feeding less crude protein in pig diets can reduce the carbon footprint of that farm, within limits. Pigs require amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and different protein sources contain different amounts of essential amino acids.
Feed manufactures have begun to make feed grade amino acids (AA) which allow nutritionists and farmers to balance a diet more precisely and feed less crude protein. In turn, this reduces the amount excess nitrogen excreted in the manure (protein contains a great deal of nitrogen). Research has shown that less nitrogen in manure leads to less emissions of gas like ammonia and the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is nearly 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in terms of its ability to trap heat in the atmosphere.
Growth and performance of pigs is not negatively affected when the diet is appropriately balanced for nutrient needs. Meat quality is improved when reducing crude protein in pig diets. Bottom line: this is a highly recommended practice for pork producers and many farmers utilize at least one amino acid (lysine is the most common) in their rations already.
Author: Rick Fields, University of Arkansas and Jill Heemstra, Nebraska Extension firstname.lastname@example.org
This information is part of the program “Integrated Resource Management Tool to Mitigate the Carbon Footprint of Swine Produced In the U.S.,” and is supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2011-68002-30208 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Project website: http://www.extension.org/71201.