Genetics that contribute to a lower carbon footprint

JSR Genetics TN70 Pig

Reducing the carbon footprint of the pig industry through top class genetics

JSR Genetics is powered by Topigs Norsvin, the world’s second largest pig genetics company.  Each year, Topigs Norsvin reduces the amount of feed required to produce a finisher by 4.5 kg. This also means a reduction of 7.2 kg of CO2 emissions per delivered finisher. It is the result of balanced breeding with a focus on robustness and total feed efficiency, which is having a positive impact here in the UK too through JSR Genetics.


7.2 kg CO2 reduction per year per delivered finisher

Feed is one of the most important factors when we talk about our carbon footprint. By improving Total Feed Efficiency (TFE), Topigs Norsvin is also working to reduce the carbon footprint of pork. TFE looks at feed efficiency throughout the entire production chain, from gilt rearing until processing.

Every year, Topigs Norsvin manages to reduce the TFE by 4.5 kg of feed per marketed finisher pig. This is achieved at an average emission of 1.6 kg CO2 per kilo of feed, which is a reduction of 7.2 kg CO2 per delivered finisher pig.  To put that into context that’s the same as recycling approximately 3,000 plastic bottles.

Egbert Knol, Research Director at Topigs Norsvin says:

“Besides ensuring low feed conversion, keeping losses low is very important. Sow mortality, stillborn piglets, pre-weaning piglet mortality, or finishers that die just before going to slaughter all have a negative impact on the TFE and therefore on the carbon footprint. The same applies to the number of empty days, for instance. If a sow does not become pregnant and you have to wait three weeks, that sow also has to be fed an extra three weeks of maintenance feed. Our balanced breeding approach, which we have already followed for more than two decades, not only has economic and animal welfare benefits but environmental benefits too.”


Higher carbon reductions possible through breeding goals

A reduction of 7.2 kg CO2 per year is impressive, but even higher reductions are possible through breeding by changing breeding goals and weighing of traits that influence carbon footprint. Egbert Knol gives two examples:


  • “A finisher that does not grow very fast at the beginning but grows very fast at the end is more efficient than a pig that grows fast at the beginning and less fast later. We can select for that type of pig.”
  • “In several countries, gilts are inseminated at 250 to 270 days at a weight of 170 to 190 kilos. In the future, due to genetic progress, this could possibly go down to 220 days and a slightly lighter weight. That will save 40 days or so of maintenance feed, or about 80 kilos of feed and 128 kg CO2.”


Read more about balanced breeding with economics, animal welfare, and carbon footprint in mind in Topigs Norsvin’s online magazine Progress as well as a case study from South Africa on producing pork in harmony with nature through breeding with the TN70 gilt and the TN Tempo sireline.