GHG emission profiles of the European livestock sectors

J.P. Lesschen, H.P. Witzke, M. van den Berg, H. Westhoek, O. Oenema

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstract


There are increasing concerns about the ecological footprint of global animal production. The expanding animal production sectors are implicated for their roles in the expansion of agricultural land and associated deforestation, the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), eutrophication of surface waters, and nutrient imbalances. Farm-based studies indicate that there are huge differences between farms in animal productivity and environmental performance. Comparisons at regional and country level have not been made yet. Here, we report on regional variations in dairy, beef, pork, poultry and egg production and related GHG emissions in the 27 Member States of the European Union (EU-27) for the year 2005. The analyses were made with the MITERRA-Europe model, which calculates nutrient flows and GHG emissions from agricultural sectors in EU-27 on annual basis. The main input data are derived from CAPRI (crop areas, livestock distribution and feed inputs), GAINS (animal numbers, excretion factors and NH3 emission factors), FAO statistics (crop yields, fertilizer consumption and animal products) and IPCC (CH4 and N2O emission factors). The following sources of GHG emissions were included: enteric fermentation, manure management, direct and indirect N2O soil emissions, cultivation of organic soils and fertilizer production. The beef sector had the highest GHG emission in the EU-27 with an annual emission of 160 Mton CO2-equivalents, followed by the dairy sector with 140 Mton CO2-equivalents. Enteric fermentation was the main source of GHG emissions in the European livestock sector (47%) followed by N2O soil emissions (32%). On a product basis beef had by far the highest GHG emissions (19 kg CO2-eq per kg product), followed by cheese (6.5 kg CO2-eq per kg product), pork (2.5 kg CO2-eq per kg product) and poultry (0.9 kg CO2-eq per kg product). Between countries a large variation in GHG emissions exists, which can be explained by differences in animal production systems, feed types, and nutrient efficiencies. The results of our study provide insight in the locations of stronger and weaker regions in Europe for animal production and form the basis for possible future development pathways towards more sustainable animal production
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationListing of Abstracts to be presented at Greenhouse Gases and Animal Agriculture conference, 3-8 October 2010, Banff, Canada
EditorsE.J. Mc Geough, S.M. McGinn
Place of PublicationBannff, Canada
PublisherAgriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Publication statusPublished - 2010
EventInternational Conference on Greenhouse Gases and Animal Agriculture -
Duration: 3 Oct 20108 Oct 2010


ConferenceInternational Conference on Greenhouse Gases and Animal Agriculture


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