Estimating the environmental impact of dairy cattle breeding programs through emission intensity.

Richardson, C M; Baes, C F; Amer, P R; Quinton, C; Hely, F; Osborne, V R; Pryce, J E; Hailemariam, D; Miglior, F (2021). Estimating the environmental impact of dairy cattle breeding programs through emission intensity. Animal, 15(1), p. 100005. Elsevier 10.1016/j.animal.2020.100005

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A recently developed methodological approach for determining the greenhouse gas emissions impact of national breeding programs was applied to measure the effects of current and future breeding goals on the emission intensity (EI) of the Canadian dairy industry. Emission intensity is the ratio of greenhouse gas outputted in comparison to the product generated. Traits under investigation affected EI by either decreasing the direct emissions yield (i.e. increasing feed performance), changing herd structure (i.e. prolonging herd life) or through the dilution effect of increased production (i.e. increasing fat yield). The intensity value (IV) of each trait, defined as the change in emissions' intensity per unit change in each trait, was calculated for each of the investigated traits. The IV trend of these traits was compared for the current and prospective selection index, as well as for a system with and without quota (the supply management policy designed to prevent overproduction). The overall EI of the average genetic merit Canadian dairy herd per breeding female was 5.07 kg CO2eq/kg protein equivalent output. The annual reduction in EI due to the improvement of production traits was -0.027, -0.018 and -0.006 for fat, protein and milk other solids, respectively. The functional traits, herd life and mastitis resistance, had more modest effects (-0.008 and -0.001, respectively). These results are consistent with international studies that identified traits related to production, survival, health and fertility as having the largest impact on the environmental footprint of dairy cattle. Overall, the dairy industry is becoming more efficient by reducing its EI through selection of environmentally favorable traits, with a 1% annual reduction of EI in Canada.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Institute of Genetics
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH)

UniBE Contributor:

Baes, Christine Francoise

Subjects:

500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)
600 Technology > 630 Agriculture

ISSN:

1751-7311

Publisher:

Elsevier

Language:

English

Submitter:

Christine Francoise Baes

Date Deposited:

13 Sep 2021 10:11

Last Modified:

13 Sep 2021 10:11

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.animal.2020.100005

PubMed ID:

33573960

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Feed efficiency Greenhouse gas Methane emission Selection goals Sustainability

BORIS DOI:

10.48350/159191

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/159191

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