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J Anim Sci. 1996 Jun;74(6):1410-7.

Sustainability issues of U.S. swine production.

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  • 1Iowa State University, Ames 50011, USA.


The incorporation of livestock into agricultural systems ensures a more sustainable agriculture. Sustainable swine production systems are defined as those that combine production and management techniques to enhance profit and improve the ecological and socioeconomic surroundings. Over the long term, the systems should maintain or enhance the environment and resource base, the quality of life for the producers and society as a whole, the profit level of producers, and the quality of pork produced. Swine production in the United States is rapidly changing to fewer and larger production units. At the interface of sustainable agriculture and swine production are several levels of issues. Four levels of issues are the farm, the rural community, the society or consuming public, and the ecosystem or environment. By examining each level, long-term sustainability issues for U.S. swine production emerge. Some of these issues include swine care and husbandry, producer health, management and production systems, access to markets, information, technology and genetics, producer entrance requirements, specialization, manure utilization, industry structure, pork quality and leanness, and the impact of modern intensive systems on the environment, farms, and rural communities. The challenge beyond identifying issues is to incorporate sustainable concepts into profitable, ecologically based swine production systems. Several major groups of issues are discussed, including swine industry structure change issues, access and entrance issues, manure, by-product and nuisance issues, and pork quality issues. Many of these issues can be addressed. The solutions often rely on increased education, management, or technology applications. These processes provide broad opportunities for animal scientists. Examples of current solutions are quality assurance programs, segregated age rearing techniques, educational and promotional commodity programs, manure management programs, phase feeding, diet manipulation to alter manure nutrient concentrations, young producer assistance programs, producer networking, and environmental awareness activities. There are many more opportunities for improving the sustainability of U.S. swine production, when a long-term, issue-oriented viewpoint is maintained.

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