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There are increasing concerns about the ecological footprint of global animal production. Expanding livestock sectors worldwide contribute to expansion of agricultural land and associated deforestation, emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), eutrophication of surface waters and nutrient imbalances. Farm based studies indicate that there are large differences among farms in animal productivity and environmental performance. 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), based on 2003–2005 data. Analyses were made with the MITERRA-Europe model which calculates annual nutrient flows and GHG emissions from agriculture in the EU-27. Main input data were derived from CAPRI (i.e., crop areas, livestock distribution, feed inputs), GAINS (i.e., animal numbers, excretion factors, NH3 emission factors), FAO statistics (i.e., crop yields, fertilizer consumption, animal production) and IPCC (i.e., CH4, N2O, CO2 emission factors). Sources of GHG emissions included were enteric fermentation, manure management, direct and indirect N2O soil emissions, cultivation of organic soils, liming, fossil fuel use and fertilizer production. The dairy sector had the highest GHG emission in the EU-27, with annual emission of 195TgCO2-eq, followed by the beef sector with 192TgCO2-eq. Enteric fermentation was the main source of GHG emissions in the European livestock sector (36%) followed by N2O soil emissions (28%). On a per kg product basis, beef had by far the highest GHG emission with 22.6kgCO2-eq/kg, milk had an emission of 1.3kgCO2-eq/kg, pork 3.5kgCO2-eq/kg, poultry 1.6kgCO2-eq/kg, and eggs 1.7kgCO2-eq/kg. However large variations in GHG emissions per unit product exist among EU countries, which are due to differences in animal production systems, feed types and nutrient use efficiencies. There are, however, substantial uncertainties in the base data and applied methodology such as assumptions surrounding allocation of feeds to livestock species. Our results provide insight into differences in GHG sources and emissions among animal production sectors for the various regions of Europe.This article is part of the special issue entitled: Greenhouse Gases in Animal Agriculture – Finding a Balance between Food and Emissions, Guest Edited by T.A. McAllister, Section Guest Editors; K.A. Beauchemin, X. Hao, S. McGinn and Editor for Animal Feed Science and Technology, P.H. Robinson.
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Greenhouse gas emission profiles of European livestock sectors
Lesschen J.P.
, Van den Berg M.
, Westhoek H.J.
, Witzke H.P.
, Velthof G.L.
, Oenema O.
1) Alterra, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Wageningen, The Netherlands
2) PBL - Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, Bilthoven, The Netherlands
3) Eurocare and Bonn University, Bonn, Germany
There are increasing concerns about the ecological footprint of global animal production. We assessed
regional variations in dairy, beef, pork, poultry and egg production, and related greenhouse gas
(GHG) emissions in the EU-27. The MITERRA-Europe model was used to calculate annual nutrient
flows and GHG emissions from agriculture in the EU-27. The sources of GHG emissions included
were enteric fermentation, manure management, direct and indirect N
The dairy sector has the highest GHG emission in the EU-27, directly followed by the beef sector.
Enteric fermentation is the main source of GHG emissions (36%) followed by N
O soil emissions, cultivation of
organic soils, liming, fossil fuel use and fertilizer production.
O soil emissions
(28%). On a per kg product basis, beef has by far the highest GHG emission, followed by pork, eggs,
poultry and milk. Among EU countries a large variation in GHG emissions per unit product exists,
which offers perspective to improve efficiencies and lower environmental impacts of animal
Analyses were made with the MITERRA-Europe model (Velthof et al., 2009), which calculates
annual nutrient flows and GHG emissions from agriculture in the EU-27. Main input data were
derived from CAPRI (crop areas, livestock distribution, feed inputs), GAINS (animal numbers,
excretion factors, NH
emission factors), FAO statistics (crop yields, fertilizer consumption, animal
production) and IPCC (CH
, N
emission factors). First, we quantified the area of agricultural
land needed for animal feed production. Next, we assessed GHG emissions from different sources
related to livestock production. Then, based on these data, average GHG emissions per livestock
sector and animal product were determined. The sources of GHG emissions included were enteric
fermentation, manure management, direct and indirect N
O soil emissions, cultivation of organic
soils, liming, fossil fuel use and fertilizer production.
Livestock farming has a significant impact on global warming with about 10% of the total GHG
emissions in the EU-27. This share would be even larger if emissions from land use change as a result
of soybean cultivation in Latin America and those associated with transport, processing and packing
were included. The dairy sector has the highest GHG emission with an annual emission of 195 Tg
-eq in the EU-27, followed by the beef sector with 192 Tg CO
-eq (Fig. 1). Enteric fermentation
was the main source of GHG emissions in the European livestock sector (36%) followed by N
O soil
emissions (28%). On a per kg product basis, beef had by far the highest GHG emission with 22.6 kg
-eq/kg, milk had an emission of 1.3 kg CO
-eq/kg, pork 3.5 kg CO
-eq/kg, poultry 1.6 kg CO
eq/kg, and eggs 1.7 kg CO
Dairy cows Beef cattle Pigs Poultry Laying hens
GHG emission (Mton CO
Fuel and electricity use
Fertilizer production
Organic soils and liming
Manure management
N2O soil emission
Enteric fermentation
-eq/kg (Table 1). However, among EU countries large variations in GHG
emissions per unit product exist, which can be explained by differences in animal production systems,
feed types and nutrient use efficiencies. There are, however, substantial uncertainties in the base data
and applied methodology such as assumptions surrounding allocation of feeds to livestock species.
Results of our study provide insight into differences in GHG sources and emissions among animal
production sectors for the various regions of Europe.
Fig. 1.
Total greenhouse gas emissions from the various emission sources associated with livestock
production in the EU-27
Table 1. Feed conversion ratio (mass of dry weight feed consumed per mass of product produced), surface
area for feed and forage, and GHG emission per kg product for the EU-27.
Feed conversion ratio
Surface area for feed and forage
kg feed/kg product
/kg product
Cows’ milk
Lesschen, J.P., Van den Berg, M., Westhoek, H.J., Witzke, H.P. and Oenema, O. (in press). Greenhouse gas
emission profiles of European livestock sectors. Animal Feed Science & Technology.
Velthof, G.L., Oudendag, D., Witzke, H.P., Asman, W.A.H., Klimont, Z., Oenema, O. (2009) Integrated
assessment of nitrogen emissions from agriculture in EU-27 using MITERRA-EUROPE. Journal of
Environmental Quality 38, 402-417
... Even if, from 1990 to 2018, Europe reduced 21% of its CO2-equivalent emissions, the agricultural sector would account for about 10% of the EU GHG emissions [1], most of which are due to animal production. In Europe, every year, the dairy and beef sectors are responsible, respectively, for 195 and 192 Tg of CO2-eq [2], mainly in the form of non-CO2 compounds: primarily N2O emission, largely due to fertilizer application and grazing, and CH4, mainly from enteric fermentation. In addition, intensive production requires increased agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, water, chemicals and energy, leading to other negative environmental impacts such as soil degradation, water eutrophication and reduced biodiversity [3]. ...
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Understanding climate change awareness and its related risks is crucial to plan efficient climate-smart strategies. An online survey was conducted on Italian consumers with the aim to understand consumers’ inclination toward food products obtained with climate-smart strategies. Specifically, consumers’ awareness about climate change and willingness to choose and pay for products derived from climate-smart agriculture were investigated. Results highlighted two targeted consumers, one more interested in economic issues and more “conservative” and the second one more concerned with climate changes risks with a higher interest in environmental and ethical values (fair trade), representing the primary target consumers for climate-smart foods. This segmentation can be useful to identify expectations and purchase drivers that can facilitate climate-smart policies and the establishment of the climate-smart foods on the market.
... However, there are a plethora of factors such as the type of soil, moisture or the application technique affecting the level of emissions. Measures such as improved timing (e.g., avoiding application before a rain), fitting nutrient application to crop requirements [12,21], as well as avoiding spreading slurry on wet soils [118] can reduce emissions and additional cost for farmers. Another option is the dilution or reduction of degradable carbon by solid separation or pre-treatment of anaerobic degradation [96,119]. ...
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During the previous decades, the growing demand for animal origin products has gained considerable attention. As a result, livestock breeding has faced a rapid intensification in order to fulfil market expectations. This increase in livestock production has led to a large scale of manure that is associated with many environmental impacts, such as climate change, to an increase of greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions. Livestock production is considered to generate significant amounts of GHG, mainly carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Methane and nitrous oxide are the main emissions from livestock systems. Ruminants contribute highly to total livestock emissions. In the present study, the contribution of livestock and especially of the small ruminants in GHG emissions is reviewed. Additionally, useful sustainable strategies for farming and feeding of small ruminants are highlighted. Some of the practices discussed include but are not limited to efficient manure management, the replacement of mineral fertilizers by farm manure, the improvement of feed efficiency and provision of feed supplements. Moreover, the use of food waste or agro-industrial by-products is discussed as a sustainable strategy.
... In addition, Sampath et al. (36) reported that dietary black piper plant extract can linearly increase Lactobacillus and decrease E. coli bacterial counts in the fecal samples of finishing pigs. Lesschen et al. (37) reported that NH 3 and H 2 S are important noxious air pollutants emitted from livestock farms. In the present study, we found that fecal gas content, such as ammonia, was significantly reduced in finishing pigs fed CN compared to the control diet. ...
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Curcumin is a bioactive functional feeding stimulant that is widely used as an additive in cuisine and animal feeds. Owing to its hydrophobic nature and low bioavailability, the nanoformulation of curcumin has recently received special attention from researchers. In this study, we investigated the effects of curcumin nanospheres (CN) on the growth performance, serum biochemistry, meat quality, intestinal immunohistochemistry, fecal malodors and microbes in finishing pigs. A total of 90 crossbred pigs (Duroc × [Yorkshire × Landrace]) with an average initial body weight of 73.77 ± 0.08 kg were randomized into 3 dietary groups in triplicate pens (10 pigs in each pen): control (CON) without supplementation of CN and the pigs in the remaining two groups were supplemented with CN at 1.0 (CN1) and 2.0 (CN2) mL/kg diet for a 40-day long experiment. The results showed that pigs fed the higher CN supplemented diet (CN2) had significantly higher final weight (FW) and weight gain (WG) than those fed the CON diet, and no significant differences were observed in the feed conversion ratio (FCR) and average daily feed intake (ADFI) after 28 days. At the end of the experiment, pigs fed the CN supplemented diet showed no significant difference in WG, ADFI or FCR compared to those on the CON diet. Overall, at the termination of the 40-day feeding trial, dietary CN had a significant effect on FW and WG, except for ADFI and FCR, in finishing pigs. After 40 days of the feeding trial, serum biochemical parameters such as glutamic-pyruvic transaminase, glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase, triglycerides, and total cholesterol levels were significantly decreased in pigs fed the CN supplemented diet. However, high density lipoprotein levels were significantly increased in pigs fed the CN diets. Protein and lipid contents, as well as yellowness and lightness of the neck and longissimus dorsi muscles were not significantly affected by CN supplementation; however, there was a tendency to increase the redness of the longissimus dorsi muscle in pigs fed the CN2 supplemented diet compared to the CON diet. Meat grading and carcass weight significantly increased in pigs fed a higher CN supplemented diet. Fecal Escherichia coli and ammonia gas were significantly depleted in pigs fed CN diets. Histomorphological parameters, such as villus height, crypt depth and goblet cells in the jejunum of the intestine were significantly increased in pigs fed CN diet. Immunohistochemical staining showed that pro-inflammatory cytokine like tumor necrosis factor-α expression was reduced in pigs fed CN supplemented diets compared to the CON diet; however, antibodies such as immunoglobulin A and tight junction proteins such as claudin 3 were highly expressed in the intestine of pigs fed the CN diets. Overall, the results demonstrate the potential of dietary curcumin nanospheres as a nanobiotechnology tool as well as an effective feed additive for improving the performance and health status of finishing pigs.
... Pig are one of the biggest groups of livestock in the world, and the odorous gas emissions, such as NH3, H2S, and total mercaptans, are major aerial pollutants originating from animal production [54,55]. The emission of harmful gases seriously threaten the health of humans and animals. ...
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A total of 200 26-day-old crossbred weaning piglets ((Yorkshire × Landrace) × Duroc; 6.55 ± 0.62 kg) were used in a 6-week experiment to evaluate the effects of adding probiotics complex supplementation (Syner-ZymeF10) with high and low ZnO diets on the performance of weaning pigs in 42 days. Pigs were randomly allotted to a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement and they were supplemented with two concentration level of ZnO with 3000 ppm and 300 ppm and probiotics complex supplementation with 0 and 0.1%. There were ten replicate pens per treatment with five pigs per pen (two gilts and three barrows). Pigs fed diets with 3000 ppm ZnO had a higher BW during the overall period and ADG during d 8–21, d 22–42, and overall period than pigs receiving 300 ppm ZnO diets (p < 0.05), as well as a G: F which tended to increase on d 8–21 and overall period (p < 0.1) and decreased tendency on faecal gas emission of methyl mercaptans and acetic acid concentration (p < 0.1). Dietary probiotics complex supplementation had decreased the E. coli count (p < 0.05) and tended to increase the Lactobacillus count (p < 0.1). Dietary probiotics complex supplementation and different level of ZnO supplementation had no significant effect on the nutrition digestibility and faecal score (p > 0.05). In conclusion, probiotic supplementation reduced the fecal E. coli counts and tended to improve Lactobacillus counts. There were no interactive effects between ZnO and probiotic complex supplementation on all the measured parameters.
... Similarly, egg production was 15 million tonnes in 1961, while in 2018 it exceeded 92 million tonnes [32]. Likewise, poultry production is also a major agricultural sector in the Mediterranean area (Table 1), and a substantial source of GHG emissions for Greece [37], compared to other Mediterranean countries. The data were collected by FAO [32]. ...
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The growing population and income drive the rapid increase in food demand. Greece and a few other Mediterranean countries are characterized as countries with a high proportion of mountains favoring goat and sheep breeding; however, poultry breeding is also important, and production is increasing rapidly. Poultry breeding is characterized by the millions of birds reared with increased quantities and prices of feedstuffs. There is a parallel increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions., since poultry production generates a significant amount of GHG. The aim of the present study was to provide an overview of poultry GHG in the Mediterranean area. Emissions’ sources and mitigation practices are presented. Future is promising given that sustainable practices are implemented.
... [12] identified and highlighted the hotspots concerning food items and their impacts on the environment as a large percentage of the initial weight contributes to overall environmental impacts. In Europe, livestock farming generates about 10% of Green House Gases (GHG) gas emissions [13]. Wasteful consumer behaviour generates food waste and indirectly contributes to GHG emissions [14]. ...
... Assessing the amount of emissions in various sectors necessitates data on countries, sector size, market size, population, region, and technological level. According to the 1997 Tokyo Protocol, developed countries are required to reduce national emissions due to their contribution to GHG emissions (Lesschen et al., 2011). However, cost-effective GHG reduction becomes a serious issue when it threatens the GDP and competitiveness of developed countries. ...
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The goal of this study was to look at the major impact of agriculture, industry, and households on GHG emissions and pollutants in Iran using different scenarios. The current study used a descriptive-analytical method, and eight sources of GHGs and pollutants were investigated in three sectors: agricultural, household, environmental, commercial, and industrial. These sources included nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon dioxide (CO2), sulphur trioxide (SO3), carbon monoxide (CO), methane (CH4), suspended particle matter (SPM), and nitrogen oxide (N2O). Except for nitrous oxide gas, which was studied for nine years (2007–2016), the other seven gases were studied in three sections over a twenty-year period (1996–2016). Books, articles, and other sources were used to gather information in the theoretical basis of research, and the necessary data were obtained from the Iranian Statistical Center. The linear diagram in Excel, the trend line, and the determination coefficient (R²) were used to determine trends in the share of pollutants emitted by agricultural, household, and industrial sectors. In the second part of the analysis for scenario design, the interaction effects questionnaire was designed with the future probable situation of sectors in polluting emissions (increase in distribution, continuation, and reduction of distribution) in mind. The questionnaire was evaluated using a binary comparison. The statistical population consisted of ten experts in environmental issues. After collecting questionnaires that served as input data for the scenario wizard, related scenarios for each section were extracted. The wizard scenario software produced the following results: 5 strong adaptation scenarios, 614 poorly adapted scenarios, and 51 scenarios with maximum incompatibility in agriculture; 5 strong adaptation scenarios, 560 poorly adapted scenarios, and 119 maximum inconsistency scenarios in the home sector; finally, there are 6 strong adaptive scenarios, 1170 poorly adapted scenarios, and 85 scenarios with maximum incompatibility in the industrial sector.
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The food chain is a large contributor to environmental pollution, especially greenhouse gas emissions, strongly associated with the consumption of animal-based proteins. The understanding of the negative environmental impacts of dietary habits by the population is of the utmost importance to provide the means to effect change to more sustainable eating patterns. The main purpose of this study was to assess the carbon footprint of animal protein consumption in Portugal, while also evaluating six mitigation scenarios aiming to lower greenhouse gas emissions through strategic changes to the animal protein consumption of current dietary habits. Overall, the carbon footprint associated with animal protein consumption is 2.63 kg CO2 eq/(cap⋅day) nationally and 28.4 t CO2 eq/month for the faculty canteen. Meat is by far the largest contributor to the carbon footprint in both cases, with beef being its “hotspot”. All scenarios showed significant reduction potentials, with values ranging from 16% (lower value for both the national case and the faculty canteen) to 71% (faculty canteen). In sum, substantial carbon footprint reductions can be attained if policymakers support the implementation of effective measures to promote a shift in the current animal protein consumption towards more sustainable eating habits.
The expanded usage of white clover has increased the importance of understanding white clover dynamics in pastures. It is assumed that clover plants have a higher tolerance for moisture and nutrient deficiencies when the taproot is still present. Therefore, the survival of the seminal taproot can influence the dynamics of clover. Past breeding efforts in countries like New Zealand have focussed on increasing the taproot longevity through hybridisation with a close relative of white clover. However, there is no direct evidence whether increased survival of the taproot results in increased performance of white clover. In this study, we aimed to (i) assess the relationship between taproot volume and taproot survival, and (ii) whether the timing of death of the seminal taproot influences the population dynamics of white clover varieties. In a two‐year field experiment with 18 white clover varieties grown in monoculture and in mixture with Lolium perenne L, the taproot characteristics and population dynamics were studied. It was shown that taproot volume was positively correlated to both leaf size and taproot presence during autumn 2017, 1 year after sowing. The combination of the timing of death of the seminal tap root and the development of stolons seems to play a more important role in increasing the persistence of white clover than the absolute survival of the seminal taproot. Future research should focus on understanding the transition from a taprooted white clover to a stolonous white clover plant in relation to specific weather events such as winter frost conditions.
Context Steadily increasing consumption of chicken meat (Australia’s most consumed meat protein) has resulted in expanded production. With societal expectations that industries improve sustainability, understanding baseline impacts is vital. Aims This study determined carbon footprint (kg CO2-e), fossil energy (MJ), fresh water consumption (L), stress (L H2O-e) and scarcity (m3), and land-occupation (m2) impacts for conventional (C) and free-range (FR) production systems, identified hotspots and the implications of changes in production over the past decade, to establish targets for future improvement. Methods In the largest study of its kind, attributional life-cycle assessment with data collected for ~50% of birds processed was used, reporting impacts per kilogram of the typical market mix of chicken products, and boneless chicken. Uncertainty was assessed through Monte Carlo analysis, and results are presented as the means and standard deviation. Key results Slightly lower impacts per kilogram of chicken meat product were observed for C production (2.1 ± 0.03 kg CO2-e, 18.0 ± 0.3 MJ, 178.6 ± 22.4 L, and 10.2 ± 0.1 m2) than for FR (2.2 ± 0.03 kg CO2-e, 18.5 ± 0.3 MJ, 189.6 ± 24.6 L, and 10.6 ± 0.1 m2). Feed production was the major hotspot, followed by grow-out and meat processing. Land use (LU) and direct land use-change (dLUC) impacts associated with imported soymeal added 1.7 ± 0.3 and 1.8 ± 0.3 kg CO2-e to C and FR respectively. FR carbon footprint and land occupation were significantly (P < 0.05) higher. Since 2010, fossil energy, arable land, and greenhouse-gas emissions have declined. One countertrend was LU and dLUC emissions, which increased due to changed soy imports, resulting in a slightly higher C carbon footprint. Conclusions Multi-indicator analysis is fundamental to understanding, communicating, and improving performance, and distinguishing between short-term fluctuations and long-term trends. Since 2010, feed-production impacts have increased (due to imported soymeal in poultry diets), indicating that alternative feed protein sources are a priority. Efficiency improvements reduced per-kilogram impacts across other indicators, demonstrating a positive trend in producing more food from fewer inputs. Implications Australian chicken meat is a low-impact animal protein. Future improvements require alternative feed proteins, technology adoption and practice change to maintain or reduce impacts as production expands alongside consumer demand.
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This report first presents a systematic overview of the life cycle of meat and dairy products and their environmental impacts, covering the full food chain. It goes on to provide a comprehensive analysis of the improvement options that allow reducing the environmental impacts throughout the life cycle. Finally, the report assesses the different options regarding their feasibility as well as their potential environmental and socioeconomic benefits and costs. The report focuses on improvement options in three main areas: • Household improvements, mainly to reduce food losses (wastage) and to reduce car use for shopping; • Agricultural improvements, mainly to reduce water and air emissions (in particular nitrate, ammonia and methane) and land requirements; • Power savings in farming, food industry, retail, catering, and for household appliances. The study presents the consequences that the adoption of these options might have on a broad range of different environmental issues, including global warming, eutrophication, respiratory health impacts, etc. It shows that when all environmental improvement potentials are taken together, the aggregated environmental impacts (external costs) of meat and dairy products may be reduced by about 20 %. The study has also quantified the economic costs and benefits of implementing the different options.
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Jerome believed that the task of the commentator was to convey what others have said, not to advance his own interpretations. However, an examination of his commentaries on the Prophets shows that their contents are arranged so as to construct a powerful, but tacit, position of authority for their compiler. By juxtaposing Jewish and Greek Christian interpretations as he does, Jerome places himself in the position of arbiter over both exegetical traditions. But because he does not explicitly assert his own authority, he can maintain a stance of humility appropriate for a monk. Here, Jerome may have been a more authentic representative of the tradition of Origen than was his rival, for all that he was willing to abjure Origen's theology.
In Dutch dairy farming, dramatic nutrient losses occur, causing serious environmental problems and representing an economic and energy waste. Simple models of nutrient flows in and between components of the farming system were used to design a prototype system for a new experimental farm on sandy soil, that has to meet strict environmental demands. Initial results of modelling suggest that nutrient losses can be reduced considerably by more accurate management and introduction of rather cheap and simple measures. However, more radical and expensive modifications of the farming system are necessary to meet future standards of the Dutch government for maximum allowable emissions. -from Authors