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Animal Frontiers Abstract - Feature Articles

Carbon footprinting of New Zealand lamb from the perspective of an exporting nation


This article in

  1. Vol. 1 No. 1, p. 40-45
    Published: December 22, 2014

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. Stewart F. Ledgard*,
  2. Mark Lieffering,
  3. Dan Coup and
  4. Ben O'Brien§
  1. * AgResearch Ruakura Research Centre, Private Bag 3123, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand
    † AgResearch Grasslands Research Centre, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand
    ‡ Meat Industry Association, PO Box 345, Wellington 6140, New Zealand
    § Beef + Lamb New Zealand, PO Box 121, Wellington 6140, New Zealand


  • Contributors to the carbon footprint of New Zealand lamb exported to the United Kingdom across the life cycle were the cradle-to-farm-gate (80%; mainly animal-related emissions), processing (3%), retail/consumption/waste (12%), and shipping (a small component at 5%).

  • Sheep farming uses low inputs and all-year grazing of perennial grasslands. Nevertheless, large efficiency gains have occurred with a 22% smaller on-farm carbon footprint compared with 1990 from increased lambing percentage and lamb growth rates.

  • In the wider sustainability context of food production, sheep have a low environmental impact and utilize grassland on hills and steepland that have limited other uses.

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Copyright © 2011. © 2011 Ledgard, Lieffering, Coup, and O'Brien