Livestock production

NACE Macro-Sector: A - Agriculture, forestry and fishing

Level 2: A2

Level 3: A1.4

Level 4:

Livestock production

Climate Change Mitigation

Metric and threshold:

1) Avoid or reduce GHG emissions (including those from inputs used on the farm) through the application of appropriate management practices.
This can be demonstrated in either of the following ways:

- The essential management practices are deployed consistently over the applicable livestock operation each year OR
- Reduction in GHG emissions (gCO2e) in line with the following trajectory

 For example, over the 10 year period of 2020-2030, a 20% reduction in GHG emissions would be required. Over the 20 year period of 2020-2040, a 30% reduction in GHG emissions would be required.

2) Maintain and increase existing carbon stocks for a period equal to or greater than 20 years through the application of appropriate management practices.
This can be demonstrated in either of the following ways:

- The essential management practices are consistently deployed over the applicable permanent grassland area each year OR
- Above and below ground carbon stocks shall increase progressively over a 20-year period

Noting the following exception: For soils specifically, where it can be demonstrated that saturation levels have been reached, no further increase in carbon content is expected. In this case, existing levels should be maintained.

3) Production is not undertaken on land that had any of the following status in or after January 2008 and no longer has that status.

a) Wetlands, namely land that is covered with or saturated by water permanently or for a significant part of the year;
b) Continuously forested areas, namely land spanning more than one hectare with trees higher than five metres and a canopy cover of more than 30 %, or trees able to reach those thresholds in situ;
c) land spanning more than one hectare with trees higher than five metres and a canopy cover of between 10 % and 30 %, or trees able to reach those thresholds in situ;
d) Peatland, unless evidence is provided that the cultivation and harvesting of that raw material does not involve drainage of previously undrained soil.

Methodological notes

For those demonstrating compliance with the essential management practices:

The essential management practices are described in the table below. All essential practices will need to be deployed, except where particular practices can be demonstrated to be not applicable to that farm holding given the particular biophysical conditions at that farm holding.

In respect of the essential practice relating to the GHG assessment, this assessment should be done using tools that cover all relevant emissions on the farm associated with production, as well as emissions associated with energy and fuel use (see below for relevant GHG categories). If it can be demonstrated that no carbon assessment tool is currently accessible to farmers in a given location (either because of language or lack of access to farm advisory support), this practice may be omitted in the first instance. The assessment, however, becomes mandatory within a five year period. The assessment is a self-assessment using an appropriate tool, no independent audit or verification of the GHG assessment is required.

To demonstrate compliance with all other essential practices, it will be necessary to establish a farm sustainability management plan which describes the management practices being deployed - taking into account crop husbandry requirements, farm pedo-climatic conditions - and their coverage on the farm. To prepare the farm sustainability management plan a carbon calculator can be used, or the plan can also be prepared using other nutrient decision-support tools.

For those demonstrating compliance with GHG thresholds:

To demonstrate compliance with the quantitative GHG thresholds it will be necessary to establish a Carbon stock and GHG emission baseline for the farm (see below for relevant GHG categories). It will be against such baseline data that emission reductions of Carbon increases can be measured. A carbon audit is necessary in order to also assess where action is needed, and this must be accompanied by a carbon management plan to set out the management practices that will deliver the GHG emissions reduction/ carbon sequestration. This carbon management plan is part of the broader farm sustainability plan.

For all users:

Calculations of carbon stocks and GHG emissions levels should include the following, though it is recognised that in practice, the scope of GHG counted will be subject to the technical capabilities of the GHG accounting tools being used:

  • CO2 emissions and removals in above ground biomass o CO2 emissions and removals in below ground biomass and soils o N2O emissions from exposed soils, fertiliser application, and those embedded in fertiliser production and fertiliser application o CH4 emissions from livestock (enteric fermentation and manure management) and some soils (e.g. wetlands)
  • CO2 emissions from fuel and electricity use - Emissions, sinks and management practices are all to be audited at 3-year intervals to confirm ongoing compliance with these requirements.

In the case of force majeure:

Emissions resulting from natural disturbance can be excluded from impacting on the achievement of the thresholds and will not affect the application of these requirements or result in non-compliance with these criteria.

Management category:

Essential management practice GHG  C-Seq  Co-benefits Farm GHG assessment Undertake a GHG assessment of sources of emissions and sinks on the farm. Existing and verified tools should be used. No auditing of the GHG assessment is required.

Animal Health:

Planning Better health planning and management (develop a health management plan, improve hygiene & supervision at parturition, improve maternal nutrition in late gestation to increase offspring survival, improve fertility management, selection for improving both methane and ammonia emission efficiency).

Animal Feeding:

Feed additives: certain compounds, such as dietary fats, nitrate, 3-NOP, can reduce enteric CH4 emissions of ruminants. They need to be administered by mixed into the feed, and the dosage needs to be set accurately in order to avoid some potential negative health effects on the livestock. It is usually not feasible to apply these for the periods when the livestock is grazing.
Precision and multi-phase feeding techniques, where the nutrient requirements of groups of animals (or individual animals) are targeted in feed formulation. This can reduce nitrogen excretion and subsequent N2O emissions from manure, and also increase feed efficiency in general (reducing the feed related upstream emissions).
Feed imported to the farm must be sourced responsibly and must demonstrate that the production of feed did not take place in deforested areas with high carbon stock or high biodiversity value.

Manure Management:

Cooling of liquid manure. CH4 emissions from liquid manure increase with temperature. The slurry can be stored at a lower (ambient) temperature by using animal houses where the manure is collected in an outside pit rather than in the house. 


  • Bundle all manure storage measures with low emission spreading
  • Covering and sealing slurry and farm-yard manure storage to reduce gaseous losses of ammonia (and related indirect N2O) and also CH4 emissions. A wide choice of technological solutions is available from short lifetime plastic film covers to retrofitted or purpose built rigid covers.
  • Separating solids from slurry: via mechanical or chemical ways the liquid part (rich in N) of the slurry (and also digestate from AD) can be separated from the solid part (rich in phosphorous and volatile solids).
  • Composting and applying solid manure.
  • Slurry acidification is achieved by adding strong acids to the slurry to achieve a pH of 4.5-6.8 – this reduces CH4 and NH3 emissions considerably. There are three main types of technology based on the stage at which the acid is added to the slurry: in the livestock house, in the storage tank, or before field application. The slurry tank and the spreading equipment needs to be designed to withstand the acidic liquid, and precautions particularly while handling the strong acids are needed to minimize the risk of accidents. A better monitoring of the storage is also advisable to reduce the risk of slurry spillage to a minimum.
  • Apply low-emission application technology for slurry and manure.

Permanent grassland management:

Pasture renovation (when productivity declines, reseed the pasture).
Remove animals from very wet fields to reduce compaction.
Maintain permanent grassland.
No ploughing of permanent grassland.

Soil management:

No burning of arable stubble except where authority has granted an exemption for plant health reasons.

Energy use:
Where energy emissions represent more than 20% of total emissions from livestock production activity, these emissions should be reduced appropriately for the term of the investment, in line with the trajectory outlined on P11 i.e. by at least 10% compared to a 2020 baseline for a 5 year investment period, 20% compared to a 2020 baseline for a 10 year investment period to 2030, and 30% compared to a 2020 baseline for a 20 year investment period – with pro-rata adjustments for investments of intermediate durations.

Benefits also delivered to other sectors, e.g. forest where deforestation has been avoided.

Climate Change Adaptation

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