Ilias Kyriazakis

Institute for Global Food Security
Queen’s University
Belfast, UK


``Pig feeding at a crossroads: sustainability and safety implications of old and new ingredients for pig diets``



Ilias Kyriazakis is the Professor of Animal and Veterinary Science at the Institute for Global Food Security of Queen’s University Belfast. He is a veterinarian who specialises in the effects of animal management on their performance, the ability to cope with challenges and their environmental impact. He has worked with a variety of animal species ranging from mice to cows, but more recently his research has focused on pigs and poultry. His recent work in pigs addresses: 1) the effect on nutrition on the ability to cope with pathogens; 2) the automated detection of health and welfare challenges in pig systems; 3) the use of alternative and home grown feeds in pig and poultry systems; and 3) the development of methods to assess the environmental impact of local and global pig systems. His team is responsible for the assessment of the environmental impacts of European pig systems and the identification of hotspots responsible for such impacts. Professor Kyriazakis is the recipient of several awards, including the Leroy Award by the European Federation of Animal Sciences (EAAP) for International Excellence in Animal Science, the Nutrition Society Blaxter Award for Lifetime Contribution to Animal Nutrition, and Fellow of national and International bodies.


There is an imperative need to enhance the sustainability of global pig systems. As almost 70% of the environmental impact of pig systems and most of the costs of pig production are associated with the production and utilization of feed ingredients, focus on feeding strategies to enhance sustainability is logical. A substantial part of the environmental impact and feed security risks of European pig systems arise from the current protein sources used (i.e. soyabeans), especially in relation to their impacts on land use associated with their production. Replacing soyabeans with ‘alternative’ protein sources is a strategy currently being considered to enhance sustainability and food security. We have found useful to consider these alternatives as belonging to one of five classes of ingredients: 1) home grown protein sources, including novel methods of alternative cultivation (e.g. hydroponis); 2) genetically modified/ engineered protein crops; 3) sources arising from cellular agriculture (e.g., microbial or fungal proteins); 4) former foods, circular streams, and industry by-products and waste streams; 5) animal by products and insects. Inclusion of these alternative protein sources in pig diets is by definition associated with sustainability opportunities, but also risks and challenges, especially in relation to safety, their scalability and applicability. The focus of this presentation is an in-depth consideration of such opportunities and challenges, and their implications on the future pig systems in Europe.