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First pigs arrived to UK's National Pig Centre

Christian Fernsby |
The new R&D centre has both indoor and outdoor research pig herds run on a commercial scale and is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities enabling scientists to run well-replicated trials providing detailed observations of individual animals.

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The facility will be used to work with partners across Europe to co-develop research programmes that address modern agricultural challenges. This work will be supported by international researchers in Nutrition, Production, Health and Welfare, Epidemiology, Reproductive Physiology, Virology and Smart Data systems.

Professor Lisa Collins, academic lead for the PigSustain project and Head of the University of Leeds’ School of Biology, said: “We are absolutely delighted that the National Pig Centre is now fully open for business.”

The whole facility is on a commercial scale, with a capacity of 660 sows, of which 220 are outdoor and 440 indoor. The combination of an outdoor sow unit with an indoor system is unique in Europe, enabling a direct comparison of the different rearing systems.

The facility is equipped with CCTV throughout permitting round the clock behaviour and individual pig observations to be made at all stages of production. Live CCTV footage can be observed from the Visitor Centre so that visitors can experience a live farm tour without entering the unit. In addition, 24-hour monitoring and precision nutrition will enable researchers to work to identify the key factors contributing to pig farming’s environmental footprint and attempt to find alternatives that could drive down the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The National Pig Centre has been developed in partnership with CIEL, having invested £4.5 million with funding from Innovate UK, the UK’s Innovation Agency.

The National Pig Centre, along with the Leeds Agricultural Research Centre, the Urban Food Observatory and the Human Appetite Research Unit are core facilities which underpin the work of the University of Leeds Global Food and Environment Institute (GFEI), which is world-leading in food systems research and innovation.

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