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Long-term trends in greenhouse gas emissions from the Canadian poultry industry

Vergé, X.P.C., Dyer, J.A., Desjardins, R.L., Worth, D. (2009). Long-term trends in greenhouse gas emissions from the Canadian poultry industry, 18(2), 210-222.


As people become more aware of the environmental footprint of different foods, consumers may modify their diets to reduce the impact of their diets on the environment. For this to occur, it is necessary to know the impact that individual food types have on the environment. This publication presents the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as well as the GHG emission intensity associated with various types of poultry production in Canada for the census years 1981 to 2006. Greenhouse gas emissions were calculated using the methodology from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change adjusted for conditions in Canada. Direct emissions of CH4, N2O, and CO2 from birds, their facilities, and the avian crop complex, corresponding to the area used to grow the crops that feed Canadian poultry, were estimated using poultry diet surveys. Between 1981 and 2006, because of the strong growth of broiler production, GHG emissions from the poultry industry increased by 40%. The main GHG was N2O, representing approximately 57% of the total emissions. Fossil fuel CO2 accounted for approximately 38%, whereas CH4 accounted for 5%. In western Canada, GHG emission intensities decreased owing to a reduction in the consumption of fossil fuels associated with the adoption of reducedand no-tillage cropping systems, whereas in eastern Canada, the reduction was due to lower N2O emissions. The emissions of all 3 GHG from turkeys decreased because of the more rapid turnover of a marketable product (shortened life span) in later census years. Compared with other Canadian meat protein commodities in 2001, poultry emitted only 47% as much GHG per unit of live weight as pork and only 10% as much GHG per unit of live weight as beef. © 2009 Poultry Science Association, Inc.

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