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Reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions Associated with Worm Control in Lambs

Author(s): Fiona Kenyon | Jan M. Dick | Ron I. Smith | Drew G. Coulter | David McBean | Philip J. Skuce

Journal: Agriculture (Basel)
ISSN 2077-0472

Volume: 3;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 271;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: greenhouse gas emissions | sustainable parasite control | targeted selective treatment | carbon footprint | livestock | anthelmintic

There are currently little or no data on the role of endemic disease control in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from livestock. In the present study, we have used an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)-compliant model to calculate GHG emissions from naturally grazing lambs under four different anthelmintic drug treatment regimes over a 5-year study period. Treatments were either “monthly” (NST), “strategic” (SPT), “targeted” (TST) or based on “clinical signs” (MT). Commercial sheep farming practices were simulated, with lambs reaching a pre-selected target market weight (38 kg) removed from the analysis as they would no longer contribute to the GHG budget of the flock. Results showed there was a significant treatment effect over all years, with lambs in the MT group consistently taking longer to reach market weight, and an extra 10% emission of CO2e per kg of weight gain over the other treatments. There were no significant differences between the other three treatment strategies (NST, SPT and TST) in terms of production efficiency or cumulated GHG emissions over the experimental period. This study has shown that endemic disease control can contribute to a reduction in GHG emissions from animal agriculture and help reduce the carbon footprint of livestock farming.
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