JSR Genetics: Reducing our Carbon Footprint and progressing towards Net Zero
Alex Haigh speaks at Pigs Tomorrow conference on JSR Genetics’ journey to Net Zero
Alex Haigh, our Technical Co-ordinator at JSR Genetics, delivered a presentation on JSR’s advancements towards achieving net zero at the Pigs Tomorrow conference back in May 2023. The two day conference attended by over 250 members of the pig industry, spanned two days with Alex’s presentation featuring under the theme ‘enhancing our brand,’ where she shared JSR’s efforts towards reducing our carbon footprint.
Our recent article JSR’s Journey to reducing Carbon Footprint and progressing towards Net Zero talked about the steps JSR have taken in our journey to net zero. Now in this article we would like to share with you what Alex spoke about the progress within JSR Genetics.
JSR GENETICS IS A LEADING PIG GENETICS BUSINESS
JSR Genetics, powered by Topigs Norsvin, constantly strives to enhance performance through pig genetics. Our current performance is our best yet. The ongoing progress in genetics plays a vital role in mitigating emissions associated with pig farming, benefitting not only our own business but also the broader industry.
Improving genetic traits is key to improving carbon emissions
Genetic improvement on average leads to a +3% annual improvement on all traits resulting in a reduced carbon footprint through increased efficiency. These are some traits we focus on:
- Mothering ability: a high percentage of piglets weaned and a reduction in pre-weaning mortality delivers more output.
- Improved growth rate: pigs reaching finisher weight sooner.
- Robustness: improved Average Daily Gain (ADG) and wean finish.
Our finishing Average Daily Gain (ADG) at time of publish is ~1035gN/d and wean-finish ~868g/d.
- Reduced Feed Conversion Ratio: less feed needed to reach finishing weight. At the time of publish JSR has a FCR of 2.35 finishing, wean-finish of 2.27.
TN70 x Tempo progeny are so efficient that we have reduced the protein in our finisher 2 ration to reduce the protein the pigs were wasting.
- Reduced mortality: we operate on high health and have a strict biosecurity policy in place meaning pigs don’t use their energy to fight off pathogens, and can utilise energy for growth.
INVESTING IN OUR PIG BUILDINGS is key
We have and continue to invest in modern, energy efficient and high welfare pig farms. Pigs finished in modern finishing buildings reduce our carbon footprint through increased efficiency, plus the ability to weigh all our finishing pigs to maximises output from slaughter contracts.
We are also harvesting rainwater at one of our pig units which is used for washing out sheds and some is then filtered and used for pig drinking water.
AUDITING SITES TO REDUCE ENERGY & INVESTING IN RENEWABLES
All of our sites have been audited to identify where we were wasting energy. After the audit, simple measures were taken to reduce energy usage such as installing more efficient heaters, lighting converted to LED, utilising light sensors and time delays, and ensuring that temperature control systems were operating efficiently and accurately.
Staff awareness talks across all sites have made employees more conscious of energy usage. It may sound simple, and we all do it at home (most of the time!) but ensuring all lights are switched off when not needed can make a huge difference. One staff caravan had the heating on all the time and the energy use was higher than that of a family home – obviously this has now been remedied!
From these exercises, energy usage was reduced by 5% to 10% overall, with one pig unit reducing by 40%.
Following installation of asset monitors, we are looking at energy monitor benchmarks to identify more accurately how each unit is performing, but so far with our simple remedies, JSR’s overall energy usage is down by ~10%.
TRIALS AND THE FUTURE
As with most businesses in the pig industry, our main barrier to Net Zero is feed emissions. Soya currently contributes to approximately one third of our pig business emissions, feed being overall two thirds. We are constantly looking into alternative protein sources, our aim being to grow the protein ourselves to complete our sustainability circle.
With feed emissions in mind, we have undertaken several trials to reduce our reliance on protein and therefore soya. Our trials on finisher diet protein reduction were successful and we have since rolled out the diet across our commercial finisher units.
Another current trial is using a microbial molasses-based additive in pig slurry, with the aim of the bacteria utilising ammonia gas to convert it into microbial nitrogen. This would reduce ammonia emissions as a health benefit, whilst increasing the nutrient content and value as fertiliser, helping to reduce our reliance on artificial fertiliser. So far, our initial results from these trials are looking positive.
JSR Genetics are committed to delivering genetic improvement in pigs which will in turn reduce emissions as efficiency increases through growth rates, feed conversion, health, and robustness.
It is a big challenge to get to Net Zero. We accept that we here at JSR still have a way still to go, but we are on the right track with aims of increasing our self-sufficiency, production efficiency and sustainable practices. To read about the progress within our arable business read our latest news article.
For more information or if you are interested in careers at JSR Genetics then please get in touch.