EBLEX unveils plans to cut greenhouse gases from beef and sheep

EBLEX has today (30 November) unveiled how beef and sheep producers can meet the government’s target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 11% over the next decade.

The English beef and sheep production roadmap sets out how the sector is currently performing up to the farm gate and what steps producers can take to meet the 2020 target set out in the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan. EBLEX will publish a second plan in 2010 to include the role that processors play.

“In the run up to Copenhagen [climate change conference], the profile of climate change has never been higher and in recent months we’ve seen the livestock industry become a popular target,” said EBLEX chairman John Cross. “For the future of the industry we must be proactive and address this now.”

Many of the areas for improvement highlighted in the climate change strategy mirrored those in the recent EBLEX Better Returns Programme and addressing them would ultimately benefit the bottom line, he said. “Driving out inefficiency benefits the environment and the business.”

A number of key improvement areas have been highlighted (see table), but one of the main ones is feed efficiency, represented by daily liveweight gain. EBLEX estimate that increasing feeding efficiency of beef herds by 0.32kg/day, together with an increase in fertility of 0.05 calves/cow/year could be enough to meet the 11% target. Similar combinations of fertility and feeding efficiency improvements could also achieve the target in the sheep sector.

NFU president Peter Kendall welcomed the launch of the roadmap and urged UK producers to support the voluntary climate change targets. “Progressive countries such as Denmark and New Zealand are all starting to address this issue and if we’re going to compete with these markets, we need to take this seriously and be seen to be proactive as well.

“It’s much better to respond voluntarily, rather than have regulations come in that could place us at a disadvantage and mean the greenhouse gas problem is simply exported elsewhere.”

Change in the Air: The English Beef and Sheep Production Roadmap – Phase 1 can be downloaded at www.eblex.org.uk


Performance monitoring



2020 target

Beef efficiency (weight of carcass produced per day)


0.5 kg/day

Beef fertility (calves produced per cow/year)

Calving interval 413.5 days (88.27 calves per 100 cows)

Calving interval 392.4 days (95 calves per 100 cows)

Lamb efficiency (weight of lamb carcass per ewe)


18 kg/ewe

Ewe fertility (ewe litter size)


125.7% (an extra 7.5 lambs per 100 ewes)

Evaluate genetic progress in key sire and maternal Estimated Breeding Values by breed

Five-year av to 2008:

Suffolk 0.082pts/yr

Texel 6.811pts/yr

Limousin 0.91 BV/yr

Five-year av to 2020:

Suffolk 0.12pts/yr

Texel 10.0pts/yr

Limousin 1.1 BV/yr

Source: EBLEX