By the year 2050, the United Kingdom government has committed to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 80% below 1990 levels. All sectors of the economy, including the farming sector, will be expected to contribute towards this target.
Livestock farming activities account for around 3.5% of all UK GHG emissions with scope for this to be reduced. There is broad consensus among experts that productivity gains derived from improved cattle health offer the greatest potential to achieve reductions in GHG emissions from livestock farming at a national level.
A list of ten endemic diseases and conditions that are believed to have the highest prevalence and the most impact on the productivity of cattle in Great Britain has been agreed by stakeholders. This includes: IBR, BVD, calf pneumonia, liverfluke, mastitis, lameness, infertility, leptospirosis, paratuberculosis (johne’s) and salmonella. Interactions between these conditions, the potential costs and benefits associated with their control and the likely behaviour of producers in response to changing market conditions all combine to create a complex set of dynamics that are best interpreted through the use of a model.
The objectives of this study are, therefore, to model the impact of controlling selected endemic cattle diseases and conditions on cattle productivity in GB, agricultural performance and GHG emissions. Results are required at sub-sector (dairy, suckler beef and beef finisher) and for each of the Devolved Administrations of Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland).
Economists and livestock production experts from ADAS with expert input from specialists in marginal abatement cost curves at Queens University Belfast; modelling specialists from Cranfield University; veterinary surveillance specialists from AHVLA; and experienced large animal veterinary practitioners from XL Vets will work together on an iterative programme of work to achieve these objectives:
• Objective 1: quantification of current prevalence and impacts of the ten target endemic diseases and conditions;
• Objective 2: costs and effects of mitigation methods;
• Objective 3: estimation of GHG impacts;
• Objective 4: estimation of ancillary impacts; and
• Objective 5: Construction of Marginal Abatement Cost Curves (MACCs) and economic analysis
On completion of the proposed programme of work, a generic tool will be provided to Defra that links emissions per unit of output to national emissions reductions for England, Wales and Scotland.