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Open AccessArticle

Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Dairy Goat Farming Systems: Abatement Potential and Cost

Agricultural Economics Research Institute (AGRERI), Hellenic Agricultural Organization (DEMETER), PC. 11528 Athens, Greece
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(11), 945;
Received: 31 August 2019 / Revised: 5 November 2019 / Accepted: 5 November 2019 / Published: 10 November 2019
Agriculture and particularly livestock farming is associated with the production of certain gases that contribute to global warming, commonly referred to as greenhouse gases. These gases are the result of the use of machinery and other inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides or are associated with the digestion process of animals. In this work, we have analyzed data from dairy goat farms in Greece to estimate the amount of greenhouse gases per kilogram of milk produced and identify farming practices that can result in their reduction. We found that greenhouse gases per kilogram of milk are fewer in farms that are characterized by higher milk production per goat. Furthermore, certain practices like the use of homegrown feed instead of purchased feed and the use of compound feedstuffs or oil-rich feedstuffs like cottonseed cake can result in lower greenhouse gases in goat farms. Also, the analysis suggests that the reduction of greenhouse gases can lead to a reduction of farm income, especially in the case of intensive farms. This finding has to be taken into consideration by policy makers and possible measures to compensate for this income loss have to be explored.
Dairy goat farming is an important agricultural activity in the Mediterranean region. In Greece the activity offers occupation and income to thousands of families mainly located in mountainous and semi-mountainous areas of the country where it utilizes low productivity pastures and shrub lands. Furthermore, goats are more resilient to climate changes compared to other species, and are often characterized as ideal for keeping in drought areas. However, there is still limited evidence on total greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted from goat farms and their mitigation potential. In this context, this study aims to estimate GHG emissions of goat farms in Greece and explore their abatement options using an economic optimization model. Three case studies are explored i.e., an extensive, a semi-intensive and an intensive goat farm that correspond to the main goat production systems identified in Greece. The analysis aims to assess total GHGs as well as the impact of abatement on the structures, gross margins and labor inputs of the farms under investigation. The issue of the marginal abatement cost is also addressed. The results indicate that the extensive farm causes higher emissions/kg of milk produced (4.08 kg CO2-eq) compared to the semi-intensive and intensive farms (2.04 kg and 1.82 kg of CO2-equivelants, respectively). The results also emphasize the higher marginal abatement cost of the intensive farm. In all farm types, abatement is achieved primarily through the reduction of the livestock capital and secondarily by other appropriate farming practices, like substitution of purchased feed with homegrown feed. View Full-Text
Keywords: dairy goat farming; linear programming; GHG emissions; abatement cost; mitigation options; carbon footprint dairy goat farming; linear programming; GHG emissions; abatement cost; mitigation options; carbon footprint
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Sintori, A.; Tzouramani, I.; Liontakis, A. Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Dairy Goat Farming Systems: Abatement Potential and Cost. Animals 2019, 9, 945.

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