AFBI Pig Production Research

Genetics | Reproduction | Behaviour | Nutrition | Health & Welfare | Productivity | Food Integrity | Environmental Impact

The AFBI Hillsborough unit offers specialist pig production research capability designed to conduct detailed scientific investigations in the areas of production, nutrition, welfare and meat quality.

In partnership with:


The 150 sow herd based at AFBI Hillsborough is managed as a commercial herd. The research facility offers the capability to enable sows and pigs to be individually fed whilst group housed. Specialist equipment also allows for the digestibility of nutrients to be measured from growing and finishing pigs, as well as gaseous emissions via a specialised animal metabolism unit. Flexible pen sizes can be adapted for both growing and finishing pigs.

Key research expertise:

  • Nutrition and feeding management to improve performance efficiency and meat quality
  • Investigating the nutritive value of ‘new’ and traditional raw materials in pig feed
  • Reducing the environmental footprint of pig production
  • Reducing the variability in growth rate among pigs
  • Maximizing performance output of small piglets from large litters
  • Enhancing sow longevity and performance outputs
  • Animal welfare, including tail biting, enrichment, transport and stress; pre-empting and advising on the effect of proposed welfare legislation

Specialist equipment includes:

  • Spotmix kitchen delivering 20 diets to individual pens
  • MLP feeder stations for individual animal feed intakes and weights
  • Mobile DEXA scanner assessing carcass quality and bone density
  • High resolution Infrared Thermography Camera to assess pig welfare, health and environment conditions


Advancing the development of new feed products and increasing the efficiency of meat production; optimising animal production and welfare.

Supporting the Grand Challenges facing livestock food production:

Climate Smart Food Systems

Resource Efficiency & Precision Nutrition

Health & Welfare Management

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AFBI Research Farm Low Birth Weight Pigs | CIEL

Low birthweight pigs within pig production

AFBI researchers have shown that the careful management of sow feeding during lactation can markedly increase feed intake and facilitate greater milk yields. Improved sow lactation nutrition can significantly reduce preweaning mortality of low birthweight animals. This, in turn, will greatly increase the number of animals weaned, improving output and profitability at farm level.