Date Full Report Received


Date Abstract Report Received



Primary Investigator:

High feed cost and environmental footprint are two major challenges for the US pork industry. Feed costs play a major role in determining the profitability of a swine enterprise. Energy and protein are the main nutrient components in swine diet. Energy represents the largest cost contribution to the finished diet followed by protein. Energy from corn has been a very economical source for swine diets. The complementary way in which corn and soybean blend to produce a well-balanced diet makes this combination a standard for supplying energy and protein. In cases of limited supplies and high prices of corn or soybean, producers are encouraged to evaluate alternative sources of energy and protein, including other grains, byproducts of feed and food industry, and make “what if” comparisons in a changing global and local market.

In the same time, as livestock production is one of the major causes of the world’s environmental impacts including agricultural land use, water depletion, and climate change, researchers are looking for alternative diets that will lower environmental footprints of swine production. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a tool to evaluate environmental footprints of a product or process throughout the entire life cycle. The use and impacts on land, air, water, and greenhouse gases all make up the environmental footprints of swine production. This project aims to provide robust estimations on environmental footprints of swine diets through LCA analysis. The goal is to gather solid information in literature to address the two major challenges for the swine industry: high feed cost and large environmental footprint, and to assist the US swine industry to look for realistic low cost and environmentally sustainable feeding strategies, and to highlight opportunities for potential change or innovation. The objective of the project is to quantify the carbon, water and land footprint of a standard corn-soybean finishing swine diet and four alternative diets.

From literature and survey, we identified the following five representative diets in the USA: Corn-Soybean meal, Corn-Soybean meal-low DDGS, Corn-Soybean meal-high DDGS, Corn-Soybean meal- DDGS-Bakery-Middlings, and Sorghum-Soybean meal. The environmental footprints of major feed ingredients including corn, soybean meal, DDGS, sorgum, wheat-middlings, and amino acids were estimated through a synthetic LCA. The environmental footprints of the five representative diets at the feed production stage on a per pound live weight were calculated and summarized in one table. Introducing DDGS into the standard Corn-SBM diet will generally reduce the environmental footprints in global warming, land use, and water consumption at the feed production stage. Since the global warming footprint at the feed production stage and at the management or animal production stage are almost equally important in the overall global warming footprint of swine production. When DDGS is used in swine diet, the benefit of reducing global warming footprint at the feed production stage may be offset by the potential increasing global warming footprint at the management or animal production stage. Among the identified five representative diets, the Sorghum-SBM diet has the highest global warming and land use footprint, followed by the Corn-SBM-DDGS-Bakery-Middlings diet. Nevertheless, the Sorghum-SBM diet has the lowest water consumption footprint, while the standard Corn-SBM diet has the highest water consumption footprint.
Contact information: Zifei Liu, 785-532-3587,