PhD position on "The role of pigs in Irish circular food systems"
Moorepark Food Research Centre, TEAGASC
Co Cork, Ireland
Today’s food systems are extremely resource intensive, covering about 40% of the world’s ice and desert-free land and using about two-thirds of all freshwater withdrawals. One of the main causes of these environmental impacts is that our current food systems operate on a wasteful linear model. The concept of ‘circular food systems’ is increasingly seen as a promising response to these environmental challenges, and as an important pathway to ensuring a sustainable food future. One of the principles states that monogastric farm animals should mainly convert feed ingredients that are inedible for humans (Circular Feed Ingredients (CFIs); industrial residuals, co-products, by-products, and waste products from food production and processing) into valuable food products, to recycle valuable biomass and nutrients back into the food system.
Pigs are specifically capable of upcycling CFIs from food production/consumption into valuable animal-source food. However, the impact of feeding mainly CFIs on pig performance and welfare is unknown, and no scientific study has yet explored the availability and nutritional quality of CFIs that are potentially suitable for pigs in Ireland. This PhD project will assess the environmental and welfare consequences of feeding mainly CFIs to pigs. It will involve researching what CFIs are currently used in pig feed, which ones are available in Ireland, formulation of various CFI diets, and a live animal experiment which will investigate their effect regarding pig growth performance, health, and welfare. Literature and experimental data will be combined to determine how much pork could be produced in Ireland while minimizing the environmental impact and maximizing welfare. The PhD candidate will be enrolled at the graduate school Wageningen Institute of Animal Sciences, which provides a training and support program to enable the PhD to develop into an independent researcher at the highest international level.