This chapter outlines the role of livestock in the production of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that contributes to climate change. Livestock contribute both directly and indirectly to climate change through the emissions of GHGs such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O). As animal production systems are vulnerable to climate change and are large contributors to potential global warming, it is vital to understand in detail enteric CH4 emission and manure management in different livestock species. Methane emissions from livestock are estimated to be approximately 2.2 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalents, accounting for about 80% of agricultural CH4 and 35% of the total anthropogenic CH4 emissions. Furthermore, the global livestock sector contributes about 75% of the agricultural N2O emissions. Other sources of GHG emission from livestock and related activities are fossil fuels used for associated farm activities, N2O emissions from fertilizer use, CH4 release from the breakdown of fertilizers and from animal manure, and land-use changes for feed production. There are several techniques available to quantify CH4 emission, and simulation models offer a scope to predict accurately the GHG emission from a livestock enterprise as a whole. Quantifying GHG emission from livestock may pave the way for understanding the role of livestock to climate change and this will help in designing appropriate mitigation strategies to reduce livestock-related GHGs.
Part of the book: Greenhouse Gases