Insulation and feed changes could lower livestock GHG emissions, MEPs told

By By Carmen Paun, in Brussels

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Methane Beef Lamb Livestock Pork Poultry

Insulation of heated livestock buildings could lower GHG emissions
Insulation of heated livestock buildings could lower GHG emissions
The insulation of heated livestock buildings and replacing soya with rapeseed in animal feed are some of the measures livestock farmers can use to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a European Parliament workshop heard last week in Brussels.

“About 40% of the total GHG emissions of agriculture in France come from methane from ruminants and their manure,” Dr Sylvain Pellerin, research director at the French National Agriculture Research Centre (INRA), told members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

To decrease emissions, farmers can adjust animal diet to reduce nitrogen in manure, set-up biogas plants running on animal waste and reduce consumption of fossil fuels by better insulating heated livestock buildings, Dr Pellerin explained.

Farmers can use solar dryers for fodders, which would improve the nutritional quality of the fodder given to the animals, according to Jordi Domingo, project manager at the Spanish Global Nature Foundation, an environmental group. This would require a significant financial investment and would be a more long-term measure, he explained.

A European Union (EU)-funded research project carried by Domingo’s foundation, alongside partners from France, Germany and Italy, has shown that the best combination of measures to decrease GHG emissions from poultry and pig farms was installing photovoltaic panels for the production of energy used in the farm, creating a biogas plant and insulating the buildings where the animals live. But some of these measures are hard to implement as they require serious financial investment and technical expertise, Domingo explained to MEPs. In many cases, there are no national or European subsidies for such measures, which stops livestock producers from pursuing them, he noted.

However, not all MEPs were convinced that the measures proposed would have any impact on GHG reduction: “If I feed my chicken less protein, they would produce fewer eggs, which in turn would lead to me needing more chickens to produce the same number of eggs; but more birds being fed would result in the same amount of protein feed spent,” argued United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) MEP John Stuart Agnew at the event, held on 21 January.

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