PhD Position | Optimising the pig fattening unit

Context and research question: Economic results of pig farming systems are very variable and depend on the prices of feed ingredients used to formulate feeds as well as on the pork price. Pig farming systems also contribute to some environmental impacts, such as climate change or eutrophication. The environmental impacts usually associated to pig farming systems (eutrophication, acidification climate change,…) are also largely influenced by the feeding strategy of the farmer. The pig fattening unit also contributes to the major part of the environmental impacts of pig production.
A recent project involving the PEGASE research unit as well as IFIP the pig institute has produced a model of the pig fattening unit which accounts for the various farming practices (e.g. feeding practices) on the growth performance of the animals, and calculates the economic output and the environmental impacts (with Life Cycle Assessment) which result from the animal performances.

The research question is: How optimising the feeding strategy for a batch of fattening pigs on economic and environmental criteria?
Hypothesis 1: The optimization of the feeding strategy allows to improve efficiently the economic result and the environmental impacts of pig production
Hypothesis 2: The market situation (prices of feed ingredients and of pork) has an effect on the optimal feeding strategies
Hypothesis 3: Accounting for uncertainties of market situation and of feed nutritional value allows finding optimal feeding strategies that are more robust to the market situation than feeding strategies optimised without accounting for uncertainties.

Research program: The program will be organized with the following steps:
Task 1: Selection of a series of optimization procedures to i) optimize the feeding strategy according to market situation with high speed and ability to find the global optimum, and ii) to optimize the feeding strategy in uncertain market situation
Task 2: Programming of the various candidate procedures for optimization
Task 3: choice of the economic scenarios to test the procedures / test and choice of the best procedures
Task 4: Identification of optimal feeding strategies for various criteria (economic and/or environmental) and for various economic contexts
Task 5: comparison of economic and environmental outputs of feeding strategies optimised with and without consideration of the market situation and feed value uncertainties.

Expected results: This multidisciplinary work (applied mathematics, animal sciences for livestock systems economy, computing) will provide a model able to optimise the feeding strategies of the pig fattening unit. It will also provide knowledge and a generic approach to conduct the optimisation of the livestock systems management. This work will also give insights for the integration of results of optimal strategies from the farm to the territory and national scales/

Job location: 
16, Le Clos
35590 Saint-Gilles
Contact and application information
Friday, September 15, 2017
Contact name: 
Florence Garcia-Launay