Environmental and economic consequences of pig-cooling strategies implemented in a European pig-fattening unit

Giorgios Pexas, Stephen Mackenzie, Knut-Hakan Jeppsson, Anne-Charlotte Olsson, Michael Wallace, Ilias Kyriazakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The increased frequency of hot days due to climate change can potentially impair the environmental and economic performance of pig-fattening farms. Several pig-cooling strategies have been proposed to address these impacts, however their implementation is not always economically viable and the potential environmental-economic trade-offs not well understood. Here, we propose and implement a novel framework for environmental and economic evaluation of pig-cooling strategies in a whole farm context. We also demonstrate through a sensitivity analysis how such models can be integrated with projected climate data to investigate how climate change may affect the assessment of capital investments that are made over significant timescales. We considered two strategies implemented in a pig-fattening farm in south Sweden: pig-cooling with showers and with increased air velocity. Operation of the farm under non-cooling conditions was considered as the baseline system against which the analysis was conducted. We calculated whole-farm annual equivalent values (AEV) with the implementation of each strategy through a discounted cash flow analysis and annualised system environmental impact through a life cycle assessment. Both cooling strategies significantly reduced system environmental impact across all categories except water footprint. Acidification potential was reduced the most, exhibiting a −3.28% reduction with pig showers and −1.51% with increased air velocity. Farm profitability improved by +6.79% with showers and +3.37% with increased air velocity. Ambient temperature increase under non-cooling conditions significantly increased all impact categories with acidification being affected the most (+2.24%), and caused a −4.43% decrease in AEV. Both pig-cooling strategies mitigated these effects on system environmental performance. With increased air velocity we observed a +0.718% increase in acidification, while pig showers were the more resilient option exhibiting a +0.690% increase. The study represents a case-in-point for how to rationalise economically environmental management technologies in pig housing systems based on their cost-effectiveness in mitigating environmental impacts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date3 Jan 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Jan 2021

Keywords

  • Pig cooling
  • Climate change
  • Economic assessment
  • Environmental impact
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Cost effectiveness

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