Agricultural greenhouse gases & the New Zealand beef & sheep sectors

Quick facts

  • Forty-nine percent of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture.
  • At the same time, more than 38% of New Zealand's merchandisable exports come from agriculture. 
  • New Zealand's beef, wool and sheep meat industries contribute eight, 27 and 75% respectively, to their world marketplaces.

What's changed in the beef & sheep sectors since 1990 in on farm practices?

Beef

  • Reduction in breeding herd numbers
  • Increased number of finishing cattle - use of dairy origin animals for finishing
  • Feed management strategies
  • Pasture management strategies

Sheep

  • Breeding and flock testing for animals with improved genetic merit (gorwth, reproduction)
  • Use of pregnancy scanning
  • Hogget mating
  • Pasture management (growth quality)
  • Optimisation of stock numbers to pasture growth

What's the impact of these on farm changes on productivity?

Beef

  • Faster growth rates
  • Increased finished weight of animal
  • Increased meat yield per hectare (kg meat/ha) 

Sheep

  • Increased lambing percentage
  • Increased number of offspring per ewe
  • Increased finished weight of animal (lamb)
  • Increased meat yield per hectare (kg meat/ha)

What's the effect of these changes on emissions intensity? 

Emissions intensity of New Zealand beef and sheep sector is lower.  For the beef sector, a great proportion of feed goes to production rather than maintenance and for the sheep sector, a lower ewe population is producing the equivalent lamb meat.

What's the latest from industry?

Beef+Lamb New Zealand Read more

On farm practice change summary tables

Beef

On farm practice Effect on farm productivity Effect on emissions intensity (net)

Reduction in breeding herd numbers

 

Increased number of finishing cattle - use of dairy origin animals for finishing 

 

Feed management strategies

 

Pasture management strategies 

Faster growth rates

 

Increased finished weight of animal

 

Increased meat yield per hectare (kg meat/ha) 

Lower

 

* A greater proportion of feed going to production rather than maintenance *


Sheep

On farm practice Effect on farm productivity Effect on emissions intensity (net)

Breeding and flock testing for animals with improved genetic merit (gorwth, reproduction)

 

Use of pregnancy scanning

 

Hogget mating

 

Pasture management (growth quality)

 

Optimisation of stock numbers to pasture growth

Increased lambing percentage 

 

Increased number of offspring per ewe

 

Increased finished weight of animal (lamb)

 

Increased meat yield per hectare (kg meat/ha) 

 

Lower

 

* Lower ewe population needed to produce equivalent lamb meat *

  • Sheep & Beef work to identifying strategies to reduce GHGs

    The NZAGRC team are working with two B+LNZ monitor farms. The farms now have substantial, robust data and baseline farm systems models which demonstrate the extent to which the key management decisions and efficiency drivers impact on current emissions intensity. The farms are at very different points in development cycle, so provide useful perspectives for informing the wider industry.

    Practice-change scenarios have been modelled to predict emissions intensity for Onetai station, a coastal sheep and beef farm in the King country. Scenarios incorporating increased fertiliser use and finishing more stock on farm have predicted a 20 to 38% improvement in emissions intensity is possible.

    Scenarios modelled for Highlands (South Canterbury) monitor farm demonstrate the potential for a win-win solution when the area sown in Lucerne and Tall Fescue is increased. This enables more lambs to be finished earlier and results in a large a large effect on lowering emissions intensity. This scenario is assessed as being readily adoptable by farmers.

    Read more about this work

  • Sharing New Zealand's success story

    The Livestock Research Group of the Global Research Alliance is documenting countries’ successes in reducing on-farm emissions intensity of livestock production at the same time as addressing other concerns related to increasing productivity, increasing resource use efficiency, or reducing other externalities of their livestock systems.

    New Zealand submitted a case study about reducing the emissions intensity of livestock production on New Zealand farms.

    View the New Zealand case study (external website)

    Other countries success stories http://globalresearchalliance.org/research/livestock/ 

  • Sam McIvor: Farmers have made significant changes

    Sam McIvor, CEO of Beef + Lmab NZ recently presented at the NZ agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation conference.

    Read more

  • Reducing New Zealand's agricultural emissions: Efficiency in the whole farm system

    This publication provides an overview of how the NZAGRC is working with other organisations to understand what efficiencies can be gained on New Zealand's sheep and beef farms.

    More information

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