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Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Three Cage Layer Housing Systems

Department of Soil Science and Agri-Food Engineering, Université Laval, 2425 Agriculture Street, Québec City, QC, G1V 0A6, Canada
Research and Development Institute for the Agri-Environment, 2700 Einstein Street, Québec City, QC, G1P 3W8, Canada
Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2P5, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2012, 2(1), 1-15;
Received: 9 December 2011 / Revised: 21 December 2011 / Accepted: 26 December 2011 / Published: 27 December 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Livestock Management)
PDF [363 KB, uploaded 27 December 2011]

Simple Summary

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were measured from three different cage layer housing systems. A comparative study was conducted to identify the housing system with the least impact on the environment. The results showed that liquid manure from deep-pit housing systems produces greater emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) than natural and forced dried manure from belt housing systems. The influencing factors appeared to be the manure removal frequency and the dry matter content of the manure.


Agriculture accounts for 10 to 12% of the World’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Manure management alone is responsible for 13% of GHG emissions from the agricultural sector. During the last decade, Québec’s egg production systems have shifted from deep-pit housing systems to manure belt housing systems. The objective of this study was to measure and compare carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from three different cage layer housing systems: a deep liquid manure pit and a manure belt with natural or forced air drying. Deep liquid manure pit housing systems consist of “A” frame layer cages located over a closed pit containing the hens’ droppings to which water is added to facilitate removal by pumping. Manure belt techniques imply that manure drops on a belt beneath each row of battery cages where it is either dried naturally or by forced air until it is removed. The experiment was replicated with 360 hens reared into twelve independent bench-scale rooms during eight weeks (19–27 weeks of age). The natural and forced air manure belt systems reduced CO2 (28.2 and 28.7 kg yr−1 hen−1, respectively), CH4 (25.3 and 27.7 g yr−1 hen−1, respectively) and N2O (2.60 and 2.48 g yr−1 hen−1, respectively) emissions by about 21, 16 and 9% in comparison with the deep-pit technique (36.0 kg CO2 yr−1 hen−1, 31.6 g CH4 yr−1 hen−1 and 2.78 g N2O yr−1 hen−1). The shift to manure belt systems needs to be encouraged since this housing system significantly decreases the production of GHG. View Full-Text
Keywords: laying hen; housing; greenhouse gas; emission; deep-pit; belt laying hen; housing; greenhouse gas; emission; deep-pit; belt

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Fournel, S.; Pelletier, F.; Godbout, S.; Lagacé, R.; Feddes, J. Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Three Cage Layer Housing Systems. Animals 2012, 2, 1-15.

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