Zoetis recently unveiled new research that will help pork producers and meat packers produce wholesome pork with less environmental impact. The research is based on a life cycle assessment (LCA) conducted in the United States for IMPROVEST® (gonadotropin releasing factor analog – diphtheria toxoid conjugate), an FDA-approved veterinary prescription product that successfully reduces unpleasant odors that can occur when cooking pork from some male pigs.

The LCA, funded by Zoetis and conducted by the University of Arkansas, found that even modest adoption rates (33%) of IMPROVEST on U.S. pig farms could generate significant environmental benefits.1 This outcome reinforced findings of the first global Lifecycle Assessment for Improvac® (IMPROVEST/Innosure®/Vivax®) conducted in 2010. Both LCAs supported the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) granted to IMPROVEST by the International Environmental Consortium in 2012.

 “With protein demand growing worldwide, IMPROVEST can help the entire pork supply chain be even more susItainable,” said Gloria Basse, vice president, U.S. Pork Business Unit, Zoetis. “The LCA analysis shows significant reductions in feed, water and land usage associated with use of IMPROVEST.”

This year, a team of environmental experts from the University of Arkansas, The Prasino Group and Life Cycle Engineering analyzed U.S. LCA data for IMPROVEST. The analysis found that if one-third of the nation’s pork producers adopted Improvest, the following benefits would result:2

  • Better feed conversion, which could save nearly 60 pounds of feed per hog over physically castrated hogs. That equates to a savings of more than 500,000 tons of feed per year.
  • Improved feed efficiency, which could save 37 pounds of corn and distillers grains and more than 11 pounds of soybean meal per hog, helping to reduce land use by 137,000 acres per year.
  • Reduced water use, by as much as 130 gallons per market hog raised using IMPROVEST, or 2.3 billion gallons per year.
  • Reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, by more than 500,000 tons per year, or the equivalent of eliminating GHG emissions from about 104,000 cars. 

IMPROVEST is the first product from an animal health company to qualify for an EPD. It certifies that using IMPROVEST benefits the environment on important indicators such as global warming potential, total energy consumption, resource use and waste generation. It is validated by a third party to ensure relevant and comparable information about its environmental impact.

Using IMPROVEST helps producers capture the inherent advantages of raising intact male pigs. Male pigs are given IMPROVEST in the finishing phase, eliminating the need for physical castration early in life. As a result, male pigs are able to fully express their natural potential for feed-efficient growth, with all the inherent performance advantages of intact males, for the majority of the production cycle.

Zoetis is committed to providing knowledge that helps our customers and other stakeholders make informed decisions that can enhance their businesses. “We are encouraged with the findings of the LCA analysis and are eager to share these advancements with the entire supply chain, said Christi Calhoun, senior manager, Food Chain Outreach, Zoetis.

Important Safety Information: Pregnant women should not administer IMPROVEST. Women of childbearing age, as well as men, should exercise extreme caution when administering this product. Exercise special care to prevent accidental self-injection because of negative effects on reproductive physiology in both men and women. However, there is no risk associated with consuming pork from animals administered this product. IMPROVEST should not be used in female pigs, barrows, or male pigs intended for breeding. See full Prescribing Information here

IMPROVEST is an FDA-approved veterinary prescription product that is a safe and effective alternative to physical castration. It is a protein compound that works like an immunization to protect against unpleasant aromas that can occur when cooking pork from some intact male pigs. It uses the pig’s own immune system to provide the same effect as physical castration, but much later in the male pig’s life than physical castration is traditionally done. For more information on how IMPROVEST works, visit zoetisus.com/products/pork/improvest.

1 The International EPD System. Environmental product declaration for IMPROVAC. Available at: https://silo.tips/download/environmental-product-declaration-epd-for-improvac-joseph-robinson-phd-pfizer-an. Accessed February 25, 2012. 
2J Environ Assess Pol Mgt 2013;15(1):(26 pages).