PIGSustain: Predicting the Impacts of Intensification and Future Changes on UK Pig Industry Resilience

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Research & Innovation Services

Abstract

The global human population is expected to rise from 7.2 billion in 2015 to 9.6 billion by the middle of this century. At the same time, the average amount of meat each person consumes per year is steadily increasing, with global meat consumption predicted to double within the same time frame. In order to be able to feed this growing population, intensification of our agricultural systems will be necessary. However, while further intensification in agriculture might enable the industry to fulfill future meat demand, the sustainability of the industry as it currently stands is threatened by numerous external factors, such as competition for depleting natural resources, climate change, disease, and environmental concerns for which recent intensification of livestock production is, at least, partially responsible.At present, the situation is such that we do not have a continuous, objective and quantified understanding of the health and welfare of our national pig herd, and equally, we have no objective and quantified predictions of how this will be impacted by future changes to the industry through intensification, climate change, changes in global production and trade, and in consumer demand. Equally, we are unable to predict how resilient the UK pig industry is as a whole, and whether and how it will be able to remain stable in the face of such changes.

This project will use a systems approach in order to understand how sustainable intensification and predicted climate changes are expected to impact on the pig industry as a whole - we will produce models to predict the impacts of intensification on the health, disease and welfare of the animals: how consumption patterns and retail prices are likely to be affected, how these changes will impact farmers, and how these in turn will impact on the health and welfare of the animals.

We will collect data from a wide range of sources in order to assess how health and welfare are linked with climate, geography and other factors. Detailed, real-time measures of health and welfare on-farm are seriously lacking and a system for quickly, efficiently and accurately collecting and recording health and welfare measures on a continuous basis on-farm is urgently needed. We will develop a cutting-edge, automated computer vision system capable of collecting real-time information on health, welfare and productivity on-farm, which will provide us with a detailed understanding of how on-farm health and welfare measures match up against measures collected at the slaughterhouse. This system will be developed with a view to making it commercially available for continuous monitoring of pigs 24/7, with outputs for vets and farmers to understand the changes that have taken place within pens over a period of time. This system has been identified by representatives of the pig industry and pig vets as something which is sorely needed to supplement vet consults, in order to improve welfare management and auditing.

We will collect retail data and consumer pattern and attitudes data to understand the socio- and geographical demographics underlying consumer behaviour. We will investigate how agricultural economics are affected by health and welfare issues, and develop predictive models of how these components of the pig industry system interact. We will investigate the links between disease prevalence and agricultural economics, market stability, and consumer choices. Using this information, we will develop a systems model to explain how each component is related to, and has the potential to influence each other. Using alternative future scenarios and predicted future trends for the different components of the pig industry within the system model, we will determine how resilient the UK pig industry is, and what factors are critical for the maintenance of future stability.

Technical Summary

This project will use a systems approach to understand how intensification and predicted changes in climate, global production and trade, and consumer demand are expected to impact on the UK pig industry. We will produce models to predict the impacts of intensification on the health, welfare and productivity of the animals; how consumption patterns and retail prices are likely to be affected; how these changes will impact farmers; and how these in turn will impact on the health and welfare of the animals. We will collect data from a wide range of sources to analyse the relationship between disease and welfare problems with climate, geography and other factors. We will develop a cutting-edge, automated machine vision system to collect continuous, real-time information about health, welfare and productivity on-farm and we will assess its predictive capacity for measures collected at the slaughterhouse. By collecting accounting data on-farm, we will be able to directly assess the impacts of health and welfare problems on-farm.

We will collect retail, consumer pattern and attitudes data to understand the socio- and geographical demographics underlying consumer behaviour. We will look into how agricultural economics are affected by health and welfare issues, and develop predictive models of how these components of the pig industry system interact. We will investigate the links between disease prevalence and agricultural economics, market stability, and consumer choices.

Using all this information, we will take develop a systems model to understand the pig industry, with a view to predicting the impacts of intensification, changes in climate, trade, feed prices and consumer demand, on health, welfare and production, and ultimately, to assess the resilience and sustainability of the UK pig industry as a whole.

Planned Impact

The largest meat industry internationally is the pork industry; approximately 37% (110 million metric tonnes, mmt) of all meat consumed is pork worldwide. There are 847.8 million pigs produced globally per annum, and this number is increasing each year. The EU is a significant contributer to the global pork industry, with almost 18% of the world's pork produced here. As the human population continues to grow and there is simultaneous trend for increasing meat consumption per person - predicted per capita consumption of pork alone is predicted to double by 2050 - the future for the pig industry will inevitably require sustainable intensification. However, at present, the situation is such that we do not have a continuous, objective and quantified understanding of the health and welfare of our national pig herd, and equally, we have no objective and quantified predictions of how this will be impacted by future changes to the industry through intensification and climate change. We cannot currently safe-guard the future of the UK pig industry against the impacts of change. This programme of research will use a multi-disciplinary, integrated systems approach to understanding the resilience of the UK pig industry as it has been, is currently, and to project how it will be affected by changes relating to intensification, climate, global production and trade, and consumer demand in the future. This work will be conducted in collaboration with representatives across the UK pig industry, including the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, which has both producer and public engagement expertise, and large-scale producers (Elsham Lincs Ltd and Yorkwold Pigpro, both of which are highly active in the producer community), national food standards assurance schemes (Red Tractor) which are closely linked in to every major retailer and a vast majority of producers nationwide, pig veterinarians including key members of the Pig Vet Society board, Evidence Based Veterinary Consultancy (EBVC - specialist veterinary consultancy, helping to develop profitable and sustainable agricultural supply chains), and government executive agencies for animal health (APHA) in order to maximise the utility and relevance, and ultimately the impact of this research within the pig industry and with national and international policy-makers. We will link up with EU-FP7 project PROHEALTH (on which, co-PI Bennett is a partner; Deputy project director Prof Sandra Edwards, U. Newcastle, has agreed to sit on the Project Steering Committee for the PIGSustain project) and we will benefit from their EU-level expertise, outputs and network.

The research will also be of benefit to NGOs working in animal welfare, food security and climate change, as our data will provide a useful resource for the formulation of their policies and campaigns. For the wider public, a sustainable pig industry is important for consumers to continue to benefit from high quality food that is readily available at an affordable price. Understanding the potential blocks to this through our research will help to highlight potential mitigation strategies to ensure a the industry is stable in the face of change. We will produce a short, high quality film to explain the research project to industry, policy makers, NGOs, and the wider public. This will be an opportunity to educate as well as inform viewers about the issues around intensification of agriculture, climate change, and animal health and welfare, and how it could potentially impact on them in future. This film will be produced early in the project and will be placed on the project website and YouTube, promoted on social media and sent to key stakeholders to increase awareness and participation in the study from the outset.

Post-doctoral training is a key component of this project, as it represents our commitment to train a new generation of cross-disciplinary researchers. Please see Academic Beneficiaries for details.
 
Description BBSRC DTP iCASE studentship
Amount £100,000 (GBP)
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 09/2022
 
Description International Partnering Award Scheme - USA
Amount £50,000 (GBP)
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2018 
End 06/2021
 
Description KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER PARTNERSHIP between University of Leeds and Karro Food Limited
Amount £321,783 (GBP)
Funding ID 11340 
Organisation Knowledge Transfer Partnerships 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2019 
End 03/2022
 
Description N8 AgriFood Pump Priming
Amount £840 (GBP)
Organisation N8 Universities 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2019 
End 06/2019
 
Description Smart Systems Approaches for Climate Resilient Livestock Production
Amount £251,557 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/S017364/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2019 
End 01/2020
 
Description The uterine environment and its association with transgenerational performance in pigs
Amount £100,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Leeds 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 08/2021
 
Description University of Leeds Faculty of Biological Sciences strategic funding
Amount £150,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Leeds 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 09/2022
 
Description University of Leeds Start-up Scheme
Amount £380,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Leeds 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2017 
End 10/2021
 
Description Young Climate Change Ambassadors for a healthier future: empowering students to address climate change and health concerns - Small Grants Scheme 2018
Amount £1,000 (GBP)
Organisation London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2018 
End 12/2018
 
Title Intelligent machine vision system for video capture footage 
Description We have built a dataset using our own video capture system designed to operate in pig farm environments. The data collected from commercial farms can be used to facilitate the development of the intelligent machine vision system, which includes over 66 hours of footage collected at Spen Farm. To the best of our knowledge, this is the only high-resolution pig video (with audio) dataset available in this field, of which part of the data has been manually annotated. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact We are currently preparing a paper using this dataset. Further impacts will be reported in next submission. 
 
Title Microsimulation of Population Expenditure 
Description The microsimulation of population expenditure, derived from the Living Cost and Food survey, would constitute a new 'research database' in that we intend to make this new spatially disaggregated information available for researchers to use. The database contains a range of products, not just pork products. We are currently refining and writing up the methodology for this database, in conjunction with a publication. The database is likely to be published in the next 6 months. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This will happen in the future, once the database has been published. The aim is that the database will feed in to other research projects looking at consumption and expenditure for a wide range of products. The URL and Digital Object Identifier will be created in the future. 
 
Title UK Pig industry structural model 
Description Dr Conor Goold, Dr Simone Pfuderer and Dr Mary Friel have collaborated with industry and wider stakeholders to develop a structural model of the entire UK pig industry. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This model is planned for testing industry-led scenarios to determine resilience under different conditions. 
 
Description Global Food Security 'Food Systems Resilience' program collaboration 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Department of Zoology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The Global Food Security Food Systems Resilience (GFS FSR) program is coordinating a partnership across the GFS FSR funded projects. To date, five projects have been funded and the project managers have had an initial meeting in Oxford to discuss cross-project coordination and collaboration. It is clear from this initial meeting that there are a number of cross-project initiatives that are of relevance to this, and the other projects, including for example, initiatives in governance and resilience. This collaboration is at a the very early stages, but is set to develop over the coming 4 years.
Collaborator Contribution The Global Food Security Food Systems Resilience (GFS FSR) program is coordinating a partnership across the GFS FSR funded projects. To date, five projects have been funded and the project managers have had an initial meeting in Oxford to discuss cross-project coordination and collaboration. It is clear from this initial meeting that there are a number of cross-project initiatives that are of relevance to this, and the other projects, including for example, initiatives in governance and resilience. This collaboration is at a the very early stages, but is set to develop over the coming 4 years.
Impact There are no outputs from this collaboration as yet, as it only started in December 2017. The collaboration is highly multi-disciplinary, including experts in engineering, agriculture, animal science, modelling, economics, statistics, epidemiology, plant pathology, politics, psychology, and climate change.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Producer partnership 
Organisation Cranswick PLC
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Analysis and report of company data.
Collaborator Contribution Provision of expertise on full supply chain within pig industry. Provision of expertise on the project steering committee. Provision of access to farms for on-site recording associated with the development of automated disease detection tool. Provision of all historic and current data on production, health records, meat quality, and financial information relating to this.
Impact This partnership started in Autumn 2017, and was set up in preparation for the start of the grant in February 2018. As such, there are no outputs to date.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Annual Stakeholder Workshop Jan 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact On 11th January 2018 we held our first annual stakeholder meeting for the PigSustain project, with over 30 academics and representatives of the industry from farm to fork - producers, processors, vets and retailers, as well as policy makers and assurance schemes. Multiple presentations were given to showcase the project and our progress on each Work Package, followed by facilitated group discussions around the theme of resilience in the pig industry. Stakeholders found the event thought-provoking and feedback was positive, helping to secure future engagement, and the outcomes of the workshop will inform future progress on the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description BBC Four Secret Life of Farm Animals 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Lisa Collins and Mary Friel featured on the BBC's Secret Life of Farm Animals on 20th December 2018 at 8pm - An episode focused on pigs and their excellent foraging skills, showing how intelligent they are with a series of puzzles.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0001ky3/secret-life-of-farm-animals-series-1-episode-3
 
Description BBC Radio Leeds Interview - Chinese New Year / Year of the Pig 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Dr Mary Friel and Dr George Sorensen spoke to BBC Radio Leeds about the behavioural characteristics of pigs and the research at the University of Leeds Farm. This was tweeted by the journalist and the tweet alone has had over 3,000 views
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description CropTec 2018 Exhibition 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Lisa Collins hosted an exhibition at The CropTec Show 2018, linking the activities of PigSustain to a new major research initiative at the University of Leeds called Smart Agri-Systems. This initiative allows us to reach a much broader and wider audience. The CropTec show is for all growers, agronomists, business advisers, suppliers and scientists to challenge and discuss the best ways forward to remain profitable. The event featured more than 170 exhibitors and was attended by over 5,000 delegates. It has since led on to new contacts being made, which could later develop in potential linked funding opportunities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.croptecshow.com/
 
Description Engagement with Morrison's 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The PigSustain team presented an overview of the project to the Agriculture Manager at Morrison's (Sophie Throup) with a view to find ways to collaborate. This has led onto further meetings, with Morrison's becoming part of our formal Stakeholder group, and opportunities are currently being explored to connect to their network of farmers and customer demographic for input into the project and beyond.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Exhibition at Pig and Poultry Fair 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The PigSustain team hosted an exhibition at the Pig and Poultry Fair 2018, whereby they completed 45 surveys with a variety of stakeholders and allied industries to gain an insight into their perception of the greatest threats to the pig industry. The data gathered has been used in the Project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Exhibition at Pigs2022 Industry Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Exhibition stand at the Pigs2022 meeting in Solihull, June 2017. A two day conference focusing on the international outlook of the pig industry and future innovations. Our stand advertised the PigSustain project, allowing delegates to ask questions to the team face-to-face or to take away information and contact details. All delegates were also provided with a PigSustain leaflet in their conference pack, meaning they were reached even if they didn't approach us in person. The team interacted with a large range of stakeholders from across the pig industry, and achieved success in attracting more producer partners and access to a very large database on environmental conditions on farm through Farmex.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.pigs2022.com/
 
Description Impact magazine Publication 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The team were interviewed by Science Impact and subsequently a 3 page article on the PigSustain project was published in Impact in December 2018. Each edition of Impact is distributed free of charge in a print and digital format to 35,000 readers across Europe, North and South America, Asia-Pacific and Africa. The audience for each edition of Impact is carefully selected according to the content to maximise impact. The core audience for every edition includes national and regional funding agencies, research funding bodies, national, regional and local government, public sector organisations, policy and legislation organisations, universities, research institutes, research centres, NGOs and key industry/private sectors relevant to the edition.
As the article has only just been published, it is too early to comment on impact yet.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/sil/impact/2018/00002018/00000008/art00022
 
Description LSHTM Press Release 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine published a Press release on the project on 6 September 2016 to mark the successful outcome of the grant application and future project commencement.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.lshtm.ac.uk/newsevents/news/2016/uk_pig_industry_research.html
 
Description LSHTM Public Engagement - Ricards Lodge High School 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact 20 Year 9 pupils took part in a series of workshops run by Hyunju Lee from LSHTM over a period of 2 months. The pupils debated and discussed how climate change can be mitigated on a community, school-wide and individual level, and were tasked with taking two photos to answer the questions; "What does climate change mean to me?" and "What have I done as a climate change ambassador?"
The project culminated in a photography exhibition at the school on 19th December to display the pupils work. Parents of the students were also invited to attend the exhibition.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.ricardslodge.merton.sch.uk/news/?pid=3&nid=1&storyid=122
 
Description N8 AgriFood Article 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact The N8 AgriFood network posted a short article under its 'Projects' section of their website on 3rd May 2017. The article highlighted its link to the University of Leeds new research facilities at its farm, placing Yorkshire as one of the best places for pig research in Europe. Together, the N8 universities have more than 450 researchers working in agri-food resilience alongside more than 150 registered phd students and multiple international partnerships.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.n8agrifood.ac.uk/projects/pigsustain-predicting-impacts-intensification-future-changes-u...
 
Description PigSustain Annual Stakeholder Newsletter 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A newsletter detailing project progress in 2018 was circulated to 50 stakeholders - Both internal and external, as a means of promoting engagement.
The Newsletter has had 71 views, 21 glanced, 18 quick reads and 32 deep reads..
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019
URL https://sway.office.com/MH7Syq11vlliJ0Xy?ref=Link&loc=play
 
Description PigSustain on Social Media 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact PigSustain has its own independent email address (PigSustain@leeds.ac.uk), Twitter handle (@Pig_Sustain) and a project website is under development. In the interim, project news is related on LC's research group website (http://welfare-epicentre.weebly.com).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://twitter.com/pig_sustain?lang=en
 
Description Presentation at Health Protection Research Unit Workshop at LSHTM 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dr Shakoor Hajat gave a talk which included some slides on the PigSustain project at the Health Protection Research Unit Workshop on health impact modelling for Environmental Change at LSHTM on 16th Jan 2018. The audience included researchers from LSHTM, UCL, University of Exeter, the Met Office, and policymakers from Public Health England. As the talk was only given recently, no impacts have been reported yet.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation at N8 AgriFood 2017 International Sustainable Food Production Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Lisa Collins presented at the annual N8 AgriFood 2017 International Sustainable Food Production Conference hosted by Durham University, 11th - 13th July 2017. The conference attracted 200 attendees from the UK, Europe and beyond, debating not only how we can generate nutritious foods from resilient and sustainable agricultural systems, but also how the N8 initiative can assist in delivering solutions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Presentation at the 3rd International Conference on Global Food Security 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Prof John Ingram delivered a presentation on behalf of the PigSustain team entitled 'Individual differences in stress responses and their scalar impacts on higher level productivity in livestock systems', at the 3rd International Conference on Global Food Security:Global Challenges, Local Solutions and Connected Pathways, 3-6 December 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2017
URL http://www.globalfoodsecurityconference.com/
 
Description Presentation to ASDA 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Will James presented an overview of the PigSustain project to Ed Child (Head of Data Science at ASDA) and a few members of the ASDA team in January 2019, with a view to explore potential future collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Press release and radio interviews 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact A press release announcing the grant was released in September 2016 by the University of Lincoln. It was picked up by 48 media outlets, including 9 print media (newspapers and trade journals), 24 online sources and 15 broadcasts on local radio, including BBC Lincolnshire, BBC World Service and Lincs FM. Lisa Collins was interviewed for 20 minutes each by BBC Lincolnshire and Lincs FM.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017
URL http://lifesciences.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/2016/09/06/multi-million-pound-research-project-to-examine-t...
 
Description Video Interview on The Pig Site 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Dr Mary Friel (University of Leeds) features in a video on The Pig Site (and YouTube), published 12 February 2018, discussing how the PigSustain initiative is assessing the resilience of the UK pig industry to ensure it is prepared for the future
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.thepigsite.com/swinenews/44634/pigsustain-assessing-the-resilience-of-the-uk-pig-industry...