The National Pig Centre will serve as a major research facility for pig nutrition, behaviour, health and production system research


Image: Aerial view of the National Pig Centre. Photo: courtesy of University of Leeds.

The University of Leeds has opened a National Pig Centre in Yorkshire to improve the sustainability of the British pig industry.

Developed with an investment of over £11m, the new facilities will help the university’s scientists from various disciplines to work on the improvement of sustainability and efficiency of pig production.

The new centre will provide scientists with precision nutrition and round the clock monitoring capabilities to offer new insights for the pig industry.

The new centre was launched in partnership with the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL), which invested £4.5m through gathering funds from Innovate UK.

It will serve as a major research facility for pig nutrition, behaviour, health and production system research.

The facility will benefit from the academic expertise from various disciplines including nutrition, health, behaviour and fertility, as well as computer vision, engineering, soil and water sciences, data analytics, and atmospheric and climate science.

The investment was used for a three-fold increase in the previous capacity of the farm from 200 to 660 sows, facilitating better commercial pig farming.

The National Pig Centre’s indoor facility will help conduct in-depth, automated nutrition trials

According to the university, the combination of an outdoor sow unit with an indoor system will allow direct comparison of the different rearing systems.

The indoor facility in the centre allows performing in-depth, automated nutrition trials to better understand feeding and managing pigs at all stages of production.

Academics will focus on the identification of major factors that can improve pig farming’s environmental footprint, as well as develop alternatives to reduce the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The move will help the UK reach the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) target of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across the whole of agriculture in England and Wales by 2040.

University of Leeds’ School of Biology head and PigSustain project academic lead professor Lisa Collins said: “This new centre allows us to expand our work to improve the welfare of pigs, and the sustainability of the British pig industry.

“Our aim is to lower the environmental footprint of pig farming whilst ensuring that high welfare standards are maintained.”