- Start date: 1 April 2023
- End date: 31 March 2025
- Funder: Innovate UK
- Value: £998,540.
- Partners and collaborators: Dr Catherine Birch and Prof. Graham Bonwick, www.agrifoodx.com, York, UK Phil Metcalfe, BioPower UK Ltd, Milton Keynes, UK Dr Fiona J Short, Cielivestock Ltd, York, UK Cranswick Plc. Hessle, UK National Pig Centre, Tadcaster, UK (Suzannah Turner, Ryan Clarkson).
- Primary investigator: Dr Christine Bosch
- Co-investigators: Prof Francisco Goycoolea, Dr Katie McDermott, Dr Amy Taylor, Prof Frank Dunshea.
A key aim of the project is to evaluate the gut health and health benefits of added phytochemicals to the diet of pigs during the post-weaning period. Indeed, weaning is a disruptive period in a pig's life which affects gut microbial symbiosis and gut function leading to reduced growth and high piglet mortality. In view of increasing restrictions for use of antibiotics and zinc oxide in animal production, alternative strategies such as inclusion of supplementary phytochemicals and the demonstration of their bioefficacy, are being explored.
The aim is to develop next-generation of pig feeds tailored at reducing post-weaning morbidity and mortality of piglets, but also improving subsequent animal growth, productivity, and meat quality.
Our proposed approach is to develop tailored feed additive/supplements based on the natural bioactive compounds in vegetables and fruits that have desirable protective properties to improve piglet gut health and survival. These bioactive compounds are naturally occurring anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant phytochemical compounds present in a wide range of plant materials. With huge quantities of vegetable waste being generated from harvesting and processing for human consumption, this project explores the exploitation of these by-products as sustainable sources of phytochemicals for use as additives to pig feed.
Through the proposed project, we will improve sustainability, resilience and productivity in vegetable farming and pig productivity, thus creating additional opportunities for farmers and the farming sector, through diverting waste from landfill and help achieving net-zero carbon emission targets.
The industry-academia collaborative project aims to establish efficient, sustainable and economically viable pathways for valorisation of vegetable waste streams, a currently underutilised and wasted resource, into feed. This is proposed as a strategy to increase pig productivity through improved gut health and animal well-being, and ultimately, to produce high quality meat for human consumption.
The project is addressing the huge amounts of food waste that are generated at production and processing stage, through innovative approaches for bioactive recovery and stabilization, in order to develop these into tailored animal feed solutions. The proposed project is in line with the government goals to develop a renewed agricultural sector, producing healthy food, under profitable and economically sustainable conditions while addressing climate change.