Nitrogen excetrion factors of livestock in the European Union: a review

G.L. Velthof*, Y. Hou, O. Oenema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Livestock manures are major sources of nutrients, used for the fertilisation of cropland and grassland. Accurate estimates of the amounts of nutrients in livestock manures are required for nutrient management planning, but also for estimating nitrogen (N) budgets and emissions to the environment. Here we report on N excretion factors for a range of animal categories in policy reports by member states of the European Union (EU). Nitrogen excretion is defined in this paper as the total amount of N excreted by livestock per year as urine and faeces. We discuss the guidelines and methodologies for the estimation of N excretion factors by the EU Nitrates Directive, the OECD/Eurostat gross N balance guidebook, the EMEP/EEA Guidebook and the IPCC Guidelines. Our results show that N excretion factors for dairy cattle, other cattle, pigs, laying hens, broilers, sheep, and goats differ significantly between policy reports and between countries. Part of these differences may be related to differences in animal production (e.g. production of meat, milk and eggs), size/weight of the animals, and feed composition, but partly also to differences in the aggregation of livestock categories and estimation procedures. The methodologies and data used by member states are often not well described. There is a need for a common, harmonised methodology and procedure for the estimation of N excretion factors, to arrive at a common basis for the estimation of the production of manure N and N balances, and emissions of ammonia (NH3) and nitrous oxide (N2O) across the EU. © 2015 Society of Chemical Industry
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3004-3014
JournalJournal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Ammonia
  • Excretion
  • Livestock
  • Manure
  • Nitrogen
  • Nitrous oxide


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