Economics of low nitrogen feeding strategies

A.M. van Vuuren, C. Pineiro, K.W. Van der Hoek, O. Oenema

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Livestock retains typically between 10 and 40 % of the protein-nitrogen in the animal feed in milk, egg and/or meat, depending also on animal productivity and management. The remaining 60–90 % of the nitrogen (N) is excreted in urine and faeces, and contributes to the emissions of ammonia (NH3) and nitrous oxide (N2O) into the atmosphere and to nitrate leaching to groundwater and surface waters. Low-N feeding strategies can help to minimize these environmental effects. Here, we discuss the economic cost of such low-N feeding strategies. Low-N feeding strategies commonly include a shift in concentrate feed from high-protein to low-protein feed ingredients. An important prerequisite for such strategies is to maintain animal performance. Therefore a possible deficiency in essential amino acids is compensated by including synthetic amino acids. For pigs, strategies to reduce N excretion may result in a decrease (up to € 2 per kg of NH3 reduced) or in an increase (up to € 6 per kg of NH3 reduced) in production costs, depending on the market prices of low-protein feed ingredients and synthetic amino acids. Costs were much higher (up to € 62) when no synthetic amino acids but standard feed ingredients were used to adjust the feed for the amino acid requirements. For poultry, no actual data were found in literature to compare the economic effects of low N feeding strategies in broilers and laying hens. For dairy cattle, a reduction in N excretion through low-N feeding strategies may result in a profit of € 1.40 per kg of NH3 reduced or in extra costs of € 6 per kg of NH3 reduced. Costs of low-N feeding strategies in near future will be influenced by the competing demands for low-N biomass by the growing livestock sector and the growing biofuel sector. Regulatory measures related to animal welfare may also have effect on the demand for low-N feed. As a consequence, it is uncertain whether costs for low-N feeding strategies will increase or decrease in the near future.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCosts of ammonia abatement and the climate co-benefits
Place of PublicationDordrecht
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9789401797221
Publication statusPublished - 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'Economics of low nitrogen feeding strategies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this