Cows and sheep produce meat, milk, wool, leather....oh and methane! - Dr Duncan Pullar (EBLEX)

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This presentation forms part of the Farming Futures workshop 'Making livestock farming fit for the future'. …

This presentation forms part of the Farming Futures workshop 'Making livestock farming fit for the future'.

9th December 2009

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  • 1. Cows and sheep produce meat and milk and wool and leather…., Oh and methane !! Dr Duncan Pullar, EBLEX
  • 2. Climate change: Latest (2007) IPCC report: • ‘Warming of the climate system is unequivocal…’ • Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely [over 90% certainty] due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations
  • 3. Climate change… • Temperature increase of 0.74ºC in last 100 years • 11 of last 12 years have been the warmest on record • Warming of oceans • Faster than average warming in Arctic
  • 4. Quick guide to terminology GHGs = greenhouse gas emissions CO2 Equivalents CO2 the main GHG but… …others also important CO2eq for food especially • Methane 21 x greater global warming potential than CO2 • Nitrous oxide 296 x greater global warming potential than CO2 • Refrigerant gases thousands of times greater than CO2
  • 5. GHG production 85% of this GHG Total UK from rumen UK Agricultural fermentation emissions as M t emissions as M t of CO2eq of CO2eq CO2 554 <0.1 (<1%) CH4 49.4 18.4 (37%) N2O 37.8 25 (66%) Total 641.9 43.5 (7%) CO2eq 70% of this from livestock farming
  • 6. Approximate make up of CO2 eq for beef/sheep Carbon dioxide Nitrous Oxide Methane
  • 7. UK Cattle numbers 0.6M replacements 0.3M replacements 0.1M beef x females 2.0M Dairy cows 1.6M Suckler cows 2.0M annual slaughter 0.5M Hol 0.3M beef x males 0.7M males 0.4M females males 0.2M beef x females
  • 8. UK Sheep Industry Structure 0.1.5M replacements 1.4M replacements 0.2M replacements 5.8M Hill ewes 4.6M mules + other ½ bred 4.7M Term x & ½ bred ewes 14 M lamb slaughter 4.2 M terminal 2.8M Hill 7.0 M term x 1.9 M x half bred lambs lambs cull ewes lambs
  • 9. Cows and sheep produce methane
  • 10. Rumen Microbiology Plant energy sources Microbe (polysaccharides e.g cellulose) Sugars action (6 C) 2H2 Pyruvate (3 C) Lactate CO2 (3C) CH4 Propionate Acetate 3C Methane Butyrate (2 C) 4C
  • 11. GWP of Beef and Lamb UK UK Pork Chicken Potato Beef Lamb GWP t CO2 Eq 13.9 14.6 4.0 2.7 0.15 Primary energy 31.3 22 23.3 16.9 1.4 use GJ/t BUT Defra require 11% there are good reasons We certainly have abeef fromlamb… to produce reduction and PR challenge!! get more efficient and we can by 2020 current
  • 12. Sheep GWP100 CO2 eq Baseline -11% 2020 target GWP100 kg GWP100 kg CO2 eq/ kg CO2 eq/ kg Hill 18.44 16.41 Upland 16.62 14.79 Lowland 13.82 12.30
  • 13. Beef GWP100 CO2 eq Baseline -11% 2020 target GWP100 kg GWP100 kg CO2 eq/ kg CO2 eq/ kg Lowland 17.12 15.24 suckler Hill/ Upland 16.98 15.11 suckler Dairy beef 10.97 9.76
  • 14. We know how to improve!! 1. Increase feed efficiency 2. Increase fertility 3. Increase longevity AND this will also improve your margins!
  • 15. Herd efficiency improvements to achieve a 11% saving in GWP100 0.4 0.35 Increase in liveweight 0.3 gain (kg/day) 0.25 0.2 0 0.02 0.04 0.06 0.08 0.1 0.12 Increase in calves per cow
  • 16. Flock efficiency improvements to achieve a 11% saving in GWP100 35 30 25 Increase in growth rate % 20 15 10 5 0 0 0.05 0.1 0.15 0.2 Additional lambs per ewe
  • 17. Select better animals •Feed utilisation efficiency is heritable •Productivity (milk production and meat growth) are heritable •Fertility, Disease Resistance and Longevity are heritable
  • 18. Change the type of feed Feed ME MJ/kg DM CP g/100g DM Maize Grain 14.3 10.0 Field Beans 13.8 29.0 Increasing digestibility Wheat Distillers' Grains 13.5 32.0 Barley grain 13.2 12.1 Oats 12.2 11.0 Maize Silage 13.0 8.0 Grass silage 9-11 12-16 Hay 8.0 12.0 Straw 6.0 2.0
  • 19. Change the feed quality High Sugar Ryegrass Lower protein Clover
  • 20. Change the feed quality Manage sward height effectively
  • 21. DM yield and ME changes with time/date DM yield kg/ha ME/ kg DM 10000 11.5 9000 11 8000 7000 10.5 6000 ME/kg DM kg DM/ ha 10 5000 9.5 4000 3000 9 2000 8.5 1000 0 8 20-Apr 30-Apr 10-May 20-May 30-May 09-Jun Cutting Date
  • 22. Manage resources better Natural resources Soil, climate, feed production Animal resources Breed and cross Match genetics to resources System Choices When to calve/ lamb When to house (or not)
  • 23. Conclusions • Cattle and sheep produce valuable products for human consumption but at a GHG “cost” • The GHG cost can be reduced considerably if we apply what we already know • There are large areas of the UK which cannot reasonably produce food for people unless cattle (or sheep) are the vehicle • Unless consumer behaviour changes reducing production at home will simply export the problem
  • 24. Conclusions • As an industry we have to OWN this issue. • We can and should make a contribution to reducing the C footprint of production • We should robustly defend the role of ruminants in food production, habitat management and landscape management. • EBLEX are working on a Beef and Lamb roadmap to put these elements into context.