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Open AccessArticle

Water Footprint Assessment of Eggs in a Parent-Stock Layer Breeder Farm

by Haohan Xing 1,2,3, Weichao Zheng 1,2,3, Baoming Li 1,2,3,*, Zhidan Liu 1,2 and Yuanhui Zhang 4
Department of Agricultural Structure and Bioenvironmental Engineering, College of Water Resources & Civil Engineering, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100083, China
Key Lab of Agricultural Engineering in Structure and Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Beijing 100083, China
Beijing Engineering Research Center for Livestock and Poultry Healthy Environment, Beijing 100083, China
Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(12), 2546;
Received: 30 September 2019 / Revised: 29 November 2019 / Accepted: 29 November 2019 / Published: 2 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Water Use and Scarcity)
Egg production and consumption of eggs in China account for about 40% of the global total, and this constitutes a significant demand for water resources. The shortage of water resources in China means egg production in this country has serious water challenges. However, there are few studies concerning water use in egg production. In this study, the water footprint network (WFN) methodology was applied to analyze the water footprint (WF) of intensive egg production using a typical parent-stock layer breeder farm in North China as a model, which raises 208,663 layer breeders and produces about 2791.39 t eggs per year. The feed and water consumption over 353 days were collected for analysis, and the water footprint of chicken eggs was estimated at the farm level. The water footprint of eggs in a parent-stock layer breeder farm in China was therefore assessed in detail for the first time, and suggestions are put forward to reduce the egg water footprint from the perspective of the production chain and improving water use efficiency on the farm. The results show that (1) the green WF of eggs (water volume/egg weight) ranged from 1.917 to 2.114 m3/kg, the blue WF was 0.584 to 0.644 m3/kg and the grey WF was 0.488 to 0.538 m3/kg; (2) the indirect WF generated by feed contributed over 99.8% of the total; (3) eggs laid by Hy-line Brown hens have a lower WF than those from Hy-line Sonia hens, and the studied layer breeder farm had a higher WF than the global average based on the literature. In this paper, the variation of the WF was also analyzed, and some advice on water management for layer farms in China is provided. View Full-Text
Keywords: water footprint; egg; laying hen; green water; animal product water footprint; egg; laying hen; green water; animal product
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Xing, H.; Zheng, W.; Li, B.; Liu, Z.; Zhang, Y. Water Footprint Assessment of Eggs in a Parent-Stock Layer Breeder Farm. Water 2019, 11, 2546.

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