Grant Winner: University of Guelph Novel Applications of C-Lock Inc. Technologies to Limit Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Swine Production

February 23, 2024

The Department of Animal Biosciences (ABSs) at the University of Guelph is an essential organization within the global animal science community, and the only department of its kind in Ontario, Canada. The Department of ABSs' research interests foster the understanding and advancement of sustainable animal production, animal care and use, the development of high quality, value-added animal products, and the use of animal models to represent human metabolism, nutrition, and health research.

As of August 2023, the Department of ABSs has undergone innovative improvements to their research facilities including the state-of-the-art Ontario Swine Research Center (ORSC). This new facility embodies modernized swine production and incorporates advanced precision technologies capable of monitoring individual feed and water intake and manure production. In addition, this facility is equipped with a Small Ruminant GreenFeed system from C-Lock Inc. the global standard for capturing direct enteric emissions from livestock. While C-Lock Inc. initially designed the Small Ruminant GreenFeed system to service small, foregut fermenters, the department of ABSs pioneered this system into the ORSC as it is the current technology most capable of modification to effectively service hogs. It will be the fundamental application of using a GreenFeed system to measure carbon dioxide and methane production and oxygen consumption from swine.

Sustainable Decision Making within the Swine Industry

On a carbon dioxide-equivalence (CO 2 e) basis, Canadian livestock production is liable for more than half of the national greenhouse gas (GHG; i.e., carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and water vapor) emissions produced by the agriculture industry. As of 2020, swine production in Canada and the United States contributed roughly 3,100 kilotonnes of CO2 e from enteric fermentation while manure management sources in the form of CH4 and nitrous oxide (N2 O) were responsible for 65 and 40% of agriculture GHG, respectively. Contrary to cattle, hogs are monogastrics and hind gut fermenters. Accordingly, associated GHG emissions from these animals are expelled primarily via flatulence or produced from manure-soil interactions rather than enteric fermentation. Nonetheless, swine production is second to cattle production in total CO 2 e contribution to GHG emissions from the livestock sector. Therefore, it is imperative to discover GHG mitigation strategies within the swine industry to achieve climate regulatory goals for the entity of the agriculture sector.

The Department of Animal Biosciences is eager to quantify direct, GHG emissions from hogs consuming a standard, commercial grow to finish diet to later classify animals as either ‘high’ or ‘low’ efficiency. This will be accomplished by utilizing Small Ruminant GreenFeed machine to collect direct emissions, and IVOG feeding stations to collect individual feed intake and body weight, feed digestibility, and whole-body protein and lipid composition. Further, Lee-Anne Huber and her team will investigate alternative feedstuffs with the potential to improve animal health and performance, gaseous emission profiles, and carcass composition.

Collectively, this research strives to develop innovative, swine feeding programs that can lead to a reduction in GHG emission production and optimize economic returns from cradle-to-farmgate; ultimately, leading the swine industry to a more sustainable future and achieving climate regulatory goals. Collaboration with C-Lock Inc. The over arching goal of this research program is to “test strategies to minimize environmental emissions per kilogram of pork produced in the North American system.”. This goal will be achieved with the following objectives in mind:

Short term objectives:

  • Quantify variation in carbon utilization efficiencies within grow to finish hogs.
  • Evaluate relationships between feeding program, growth performance, animal health status, and environmental emissions.

Long term objective:

  • Develop feeding programs that minimize environmental emissions in sustainable intensification scenarios and generate data and models to inform environmental agriculture policies and create decision support tools.

The collaboration between the Department of ABSs and C-Lock Inc. will create novel decision support tools for swine producers to assess the economic values of selecting an implementing feasible GHG mitigation strategies and incorporating alternative feedstuffs into their feed programs that will optimize farm profitability while also meeting evolving consumer demands. Furthermore, results from these studies will make a substantial impact on data informed GHG inventories and policy making decisions when establishing climate regulatory and sustainability goals for both the swine and agriculture industry.

Holistic Approaches Towards Sustainable Agriculture with C-Lock Inc.

C-Lock Inc. was founded on utilizing cutting-edge science and creating technologies to monitor and analyze both beef and dairy cattle production along with other various large and small ruminant species to support researchers and producers in achieving sustainability goals. While C-Lock Inc. has been an essential role in advancing sustainable practices in the cattle industry for nearly two decades, C-Lock Inc. strives to make positive impacts on the entirety of the agriculture industry. Therefore, the opportunity to partner with the department of ABSs presents C-Lock Inc. with novel approaches and potential roles within the swine sector that will make pivotal contributions to the sustainability of the agriculture industry altogether.