Centurion, South Africa
Centurion, South Africa

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Meissner H.H.,189 Van Riebeeck Avenue | Scholtz M.M.,ARC Animal Production Institute | Scholtz M.M.,University of the Free State | Engelbrecht F.A.,South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research | Engelbrecht F.A.,University of Witwatersrand
South African Journal of Animal Sciences | Year: 2013

Challenges facing the livestock sector towards 2050 and the changes and management considerations required to maintain sustainability are discussed. Major challenges are associated with climate change and the environmental impact of the sector. Southern Africa is predicted to become drier and the average temperature may rise by 1.5 °C to 2 °C. Livestock CH4 emissions are 1330 Gg/year, with enteric fermentation contributing 95%. For commercial production of beef and milk, CH4 estimates are at the upper half of life cycle assessments of 14 - 32 kg CO2 e/kg beef and 0.84 - 1.4 kg CO2 e/kg milk recorded for developed countries. The water footprint depends on production system and efficiency. Global and South African water use estimates for red meat production vary from 80 to 540 L/kg meat. In dairy plants the water usage to process the same product may vary by more than 100%, suggesting scope for improvement. Although animal welfare in South Africa is supported by the Livestock Welfare Coordinating Committee and adherence codes, humane treatment of animals is more difficult to maintain in intensively-housed production systems. Livestock production in communal and small scale sectors requires rapid commercialisation to relieve poverty and contribute to gross domestic product. This requires partnerships, major inputs and paradigm shifts. Input costs including labour increase faster than commodity prices, the concern with labour costs being the impact on employment rates. Efficiency of production should be on par with competitors if the livestock sector is to compete on domestic and export markets. The poultry industry is on par, but rising feed costs, disease and subsidized imports are major concerns. Efficiency in the other industries as measured by off-take percentage is generally lower than competitors, a major reason being lower reproductive rates. In this context, the amount of feed, water and CH4/kg beef can be reduced by more than 20% if calving rate increases by 20 percentage points. Effective management of rangeland is critical, even more so because of climate change. Livestock production is only marginally competitive and therefore vulnerable to deregulation and trade liberalization. To increase competitiveness exports should increase markedly. For participation in world trade, controlled and notifiable diseases remain a risk. Associated risks are zoonosis and microbial resistance to antibiotics. Stock theft and predation are major concerns. Farmers should employ bio-security measures to ensure the supply of safe products to the consumer. Government and the livestock industries will have to show a clear and strong commitment to address the challenges and opportunities to ensure sustainability of the livestock sector.


Scholtz M.M.,ARC Animal Production Institute | Scholtz M.M.,University of the Free State | van Ryssen J.B.J.,University of Pretoria | Meissner H.H.,189 van Riebeeck Avenue | Laker M.C.,477 Rodericks Road
South African Journal of Animal Sciences | Year: 2013

The general perception that livestock is a major contributor to global warming resulted mainly from the FAO publication, Livestock's Long Shadow, in 2006, which indicated that livestock is responsible for 18% of the world's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This figure has since been proved to be an overestimation, since it includes deforestation and other indirect contributions. The most recent figure is in the order of 5% - 10%. Although only ruminants can convert the world's high-fibre vegetation into high-quality protein sources for human consumption, ruminant production systems are targeted as they are perceived to produce large quantities of GHG. Livestock is also accused of using large quantities of water, an allegation that is based on questionable assumptions and the perception that all sources of food production require a similar and equal quantity and quality of water. In the case of ruminants, extensive systems are usually found to have a lower per-area carbon footprint than grain-fed systems, but a higher footprint if expressed in terms of kg product. Feedlots maximize efficiency of meat production, resulting in a lower carbon footprint, whereas organic production systems consume more energy and have a bigger carbon footprint than conventional production systems. Cows on pastures produce more methane than cows on high concentrate diets. In South Africa, as in most of the countries in the sub-tropics, livestock production is the only option on about 70% of the agricultural land, since the marginal soils and rainfall do not allow for crop production and the utilization of green water. An effective way to reduce the carbon and water footprint of livestock is to decrease livestock numbers and increase production per animal, thereby improving their efficiency. © resides with the authors in terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 South African Licence.


du Toit C.J.L.,Tshwane University of Technology | du Toit C.J.L.,University of Pretoria | Meissner H.H.,189 van Riebeeck Avenue | van Niekerk W.A.,University of Pretoria
South African Journal of Animal Sciences | Year: 2013

Previous greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories did not include game as an emissions source. Recently game farming has become a recognized commercial enterprise in the agricultural sector in South Africa, contributing approximately R10 billion to the sectorial gross domestic product. The objective of this study was to estimate methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from privately owned game animals based on international recognized methodologies. The emissions were calculated on the basis of a large stock unit (LSU) selecting different quality diets. Daily enteric methane emissions were estimated as 0.28, 0.22, and 0.18 kg CH4/LSU/day consuming diets of 55%, 65% and 75% digestibility, respectively. The game industry contributed an estimated 131.9 Giga grams (Gg) of methane annually to agricultural emissions with the provinces of Limpopo, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape being the three largest contributors with 43.4, 37.3 and 21 Gg methane, respectively. The total privately owned game population was estimated at 299 1370 animals, utilizing 20.5 million hectares. © The authors.


du Toit C.J.L.,Tshwane University of Technology | du Toit C.J.L.,University of Pretoria | van Niekerk W.A.,University of Pretoria | Meissner H.H.,189 van Riebeeck Avenue
South African Journal of Animal Sciences | Year: 2013

There are increasing concerns about the impact of agriculture and livestock production on the environment. As a result, it is important to have accurate estimations of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions if reduction measures are to be established. In this study the direct GHG emissions from South African sheep and goats during 2010 were calculated. Calculations were done per province and in total. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) methodology, adapted for tropical production systems, was used to calculate methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions on a Tier 2 level. Small stock is a key methane emission source in the South African livestock sector, and is responsible for an estimated 15.6% of the total livestock emissions. Small stock contributed an estimated 207.7 Giga gram (Gg) to the total livestock methane emissions in South Africa in 2010, with sheep producing 167 Gg and goats producing 40.7 Gg. Calculated enteric methane emission factors for both commercial and communal sheep of 8.5 kg/head/year and 6.1 kg/head/year, respectively, were higher than the IPCC default value of 5 kg CH4/head/year for developing countries. A similar tendency was found with goat emission factors. The highest sheep and goat methane emissions were reported for the Eastern Cape province, primarily because of animal numbers.


du Toit C.J.L.,Tshwane University of Technology | du Toit C.J.L.,University of Pretoria | Meissner H.H.,189 van Riebeeck Avenue | van Niekerk W.A.,University of Pretoria
South African Journal of Animal Sciences | Year: 2013

The objective of this study was to estimate direct methane and nitrous oxide emissions of South African dairy and beef cattle in total and per province using the Tier 2 methodology of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), but adapted for tropical production systems. Dairy and beef cattle in 2010 contributed an estimated 964 Giga gram (Gg) or 72.6% of the total livestock methane emissions in South Africa. Beef cattle in extensive systems were the largest contributor (83.3%), followed by dairy cattle (13.5%), and feedlot cattle (3.2%). The enteric methane emission factors for dairy cattle of 76.4 kg CH4/head/year and 71.8 kg CH4/head/year for concentrate fed and pasture-based production systems, respectively, were higher than those reported by other developing countries, as well as the IPCC default value of 46 kg CH4/head/year for developing countries. The beef cattle methane emission factors of 78.9 kg CH4/head/year and 62.4 kg CH4/head/year for commercial and emerging/communal cattle, respectively, were similar to those reported by other developing countries, but higher than the IPCC default value of 31 kg/head/year. Primarily because of cattle numbers, Eastern Cape recorded the highest dairy and beef cattle methane emissions, whereas Gauteng showed the highest feedlot methane emissions.


du Toit C.J.L.,Tshwane University of Technology | du Toit C.J.L.,University of Pretoria | van Niekerk W.A.,University of Pretoria | Meissner H.H.,189 van Riebeeck Avenue
South African Journal of Animal Sciences | Year: 2013

There are increasing concerns about the impact of agriculture and livestock production on the environment. In this the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from South African pigs, ostriches, horses, donkeys, mules and poultry were calculated, using 2010 production data on a provincial basis. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) methodology adapted to tropical production systems was used to calculate methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. The non-ruminant sector is a minor GHG contributor compared with ruminant CH4 and N2O emissions. The pig industry and ostrich industry both contribute approximately 8 Gg (Giga gram) CH4 /year. The poultry industry is the largest direct N2O producer of the non-ruminant livestock industries, contributing 2.3 Gg/year or 92.8% of the total non-ruminant N2O emissions.

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