IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Improving livestock production efficiencies presents a major opportunity to reduce sectoral greenhouse gas emissions


  • Hyland, J.J.
  • Styles, D.
  • Jones, D.L.
  • Williams, A.P.


The livestock sector is under considerable pressure to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Repeated measurements of emissions over multiple years will indicate whether the industry is on course to successfully meet emission reduction targets. Furthermore, repeated analyses of individual farm emissions over different timeframes allow for a more representative measure of the carbon footprint (CF) of an agricultural product, as one sampling period can vary substantially from another due to multiple stochastic variables. To explore this, a CF was measured for 15 livestock enterprises that had been assessed three years previously. The aims of the research were to: (1) objectively compare CFs between sampling periods; (2) assess the relationship between enterprise CF and input efficiency; (3) use scenario analyses to determine potential mitigation measures. Overall, no significant difference was detected in beef and lamb enterprise CFs between the two sampling periods. However, when all observations were pooled together, the lowest-emitters were found to have more efficient systems with higher productivity with lower maintenance “overheads”, compared with their higher-emitting counterparts. Of significance, scenario analyses revealed that the CF of beef and lamb could be reduced by 15% and 30.5%, respectively, if all enterprises replicated the efficiency levels of the least-emitting producers. Encouraging and implementing efficiency gains therefore offer the livestock industry an achievable method of considerably reducing its contribution to GHG emissions.

Suggested Citation

  • Hyland, J.J. & Styles, D. & Jones, D.L. & Williams, A.P., 2016. "Improving livestock production efficiencies presents a major opportunity to reduce sectoral greenhouse gas emissions," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 123-131.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:147:y:2016:i:c:p:123-131
    DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2016.06.006

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael MacLeod & Vera Eory & Guillaume Gruère & Jussi Lankoski, 2015. "Cost-Effectiveness of Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Measures for Agriculture: A Literature Review," OECD Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Papers 89, OECD Publishing.
    2. Veysset, P. & Lherm, M. & Bébin, D., 2010. "Energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and economic performance assessments in French Charolais suckler cattle farms: Model-based analysis and forecasts," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 103(1), pages 41-50, January.
    3. Jones, A.K. & Jones, D.L. & Cross, P., 2014. "The carbon footprint of lamb: Sources of variation and opportunities for mitigation," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 97-107.
    4. Raymond L. Desjardins & Devon E. Worth & Xavier P. C. Vergé & Dominique Maxime & Jim Dyer & Darrel Cerkowniak, 2012. "Carbon Footprint of Beef Cattle," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(12), pages 1-23, December.
    5. John J. Hyland & Davey L. Jones & Karen A. Parkhill & Andrew P. Barnes & A. Prysor Williams, 2016. "Farmers’ perceptions of climate change: identifying types," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 33(2), pages 323-339, June.
    6. Nijdam, Durk & Rood, Trudy & Westhoek, Henk, 2012. "The price of protein: Review of land use and carbon footprints from life cycle assessments of animal food products and their substitutes," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 760-770.
    7. MacLeod, Michael & Moran, Dominic & Eory, Vera & Rees, R.M. & Barnes, Andrew & Topp, Cairistiona F.E. & Ball, Bruce & Hoad, Steve & Wall, Eileen & McVittie, Alistair & Pajot, Guillaume & Matthews, Rob, 2010. "Developing greenhouse gas marginal abatement cost curves for agricultural emissions from crops and soils in the UK," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 103(4), pages 198-209, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:agisys:v:162:y:2018:i:c:p:97-106 is not listed on IDEAS


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:147:y:2016:i:c:p:123-131. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.