Impact of immunological castration assessed

Impact of immunological castration assessed

Even at modest adoption rates, use of immunological castration for pigs could generate significant environmental benefits.

ZOETIS recently unveiled new research that's designed to help pork producers and meat packers produce wholesome pork with less environmental impact.

The research is based on a life-cycle assessment (LCA) conducted in the U.S. for IMPROVEST (gonadotropin releasing factor analog — diphtheria toxoid conjugate), a Food & Drug Administration-approved veterinary product that reduces unpleasant odors that can occur when cooking pork from certain pigs.

IMPROVEST is a safe and effective alternative to physical castration of pigs. It is a protein compound that works like an immunization to protect against unpleasant aromas that can occur when cooking pork from some intact male pigs.

It uses the pig's own immune system to provide the same effect as physical castration, but much later in the male pig's life than physical castration is traditionally done.

The LCA found that even modest adoption rates (33%) of IMPROVEST on U.S. pig farms could generate significant environmental benefits.

Zoetis said this outcome reinforced the findings of an LCA conducted in countries outside the U.S., which supported the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) granted to IMPROVEST in 2012 by the International Environmental Consortium.

The U.S. study was funded by Zoetis and conducted by the University of Arkansas.

"With protein demand growing worldwide, IMPROVEST can help the entire pork supply chain be even more sustainable," said Gloria Basse, vice president of the Zoetis U.S. Pork Business Unit. "The LCA analysis shows significant reductions in feed, water and land usage associated with use of IMPROVEST."

A team of environmental experts from the University of Arkansas, The Prasino Group and Life Cycle Engineering recently analyzed U.S. life-cycle data for IMPROVEST. The analysis found that if one-third of the nation's pork producers adopted IMPROVEST, the following benefits would result:

* Better feed conversion, which could save nearly 60 lb. of feed per hog over physically castrated hogs. That equates to a savings of more than 500,000 tons of feed per year.

* Improved feed efficiency, which could save 37 lb. of corn and distillers grains and more than 11 lb. of soybean meal per hog, helping to reduce land use by 137,000 acres per year.

* Reduced water use by as much as 130 gal. per market hog raised using IMPROVEST, or 2.3 billion gal. of water per year.

* Reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by more than 500,000 tons per year.

According to Zoetis, IMPROVEST is the first product from an animal health company to qualify for an EPD, which certifies that using the product benefits the environment on important indicators such as global warming potential, total energy consumption, resource use and waste generation. It is validated by a third party to ensure relevant and comparable information about its environmental impact.

Using IMPROVEST helps producers capture the inherent advantages of raising intact male pigs.

Male pigs are given IMPROVEST in the finishing phase, eliminating the need for physical castration early in life. As a result, male pigs are able to fully express their natural potential for feed-efficient growth — with all of the inherent performance advantages of intact males — for the majority of the production cycle (Feedstuffs, Nov. 25, 2013).

"The majority of our business is linked to food production, and we believe it's important to provide knowledge to help our customers as well as other stakeholders make informed decisions that can enhance their businesses," said Christi Calhoun, Zoetis senior manager for food chain outreach. "We are encouraged with these findings and are eager to share these advancements with the entire supply chain."

Zoetis is a leading animal health company dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on a 60-year history as the animal health business of Pfizer, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, complemented by diagnostic products and genetic tests and supported by a range of services.

In 2012, the company generated annual revenues of $4.3 billion. With approximately 9,300 employees worldwide at the beginning of 2013, Zoetis has a local presence in 70 countries, including 29 manufacturing facilities in 11 countries.

Volume:86 Issue:03

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