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

Animals (Basel). 2019 Nov 10;9(11):945. doi: 10.3390/ani9110945.


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.

Keywords: GHG emissions; abatement cost; carbon footprint; dairy goat farming; linear programming; mitigation options.