National carbon footprint of milk – Life cycle assessment of British and German milk 1990 at farm gate

De Rosa M, Dalgaard R, Schmidt J (2013)

Publication info

Arla Foods, Aarhus, Denmark


This report presents the results of the Carbon Foot-printing (CF) of milk production in the United Kingdom and in Germany in 1990.

Milk production is often related to large area of grassland. For this reason the United Kingdom and Germany are among the most important milk producers’ countries in the European Union, together with Holland, Denmark, Belgium and some regions of France and Italy. In particular, Northern Ireland, Scotland and the South West of England are the regions in the United Kingdom with the highest milk production. Similarly, in Germany the milk production is concentrated in the grassland rich northern region of Schleswig-Holstein, in the North West part of Lower Saxony, in the central Thuringia and in the South Eastern Bavaria (Eurostat 2013).

The most common dairy cow in Britain is the black and white Holstein-Friesian breed that represents 90% of the British herd. Other breeds that can be seen are the Ayrshire, Jersey and Guernsey (DairyCo 2013). More than 80% of dairy cows in Germany belong to the major breeds German Holstein (both black and white and red and white), the German Fleckvieh (Simmental) and the German Braunvieh (Brown Swiss). The diversity of the cattle breeds depends on regional climate differences and fodder availability. In the North and East German Holstein are the most common breeds. In the south Simmental and Brown Swiss Cattle are dominant (German Livestock 2013).

The study focuses mostly on 1990 national data when these are available, or on national data collected in the following years when data from 1990 are not available. In case data are not available, figures relative to the CF of milk production in 1990 in Denmark are used (Dalgaard and Schmidt 2012a). In particular, the following changes are applied to Dalgaard and Schmidt (2012a):
–  Milk yields and feed intake.
–  Electricity mix in the United Kingdom.
–  Crop yields, straw removal, type and amount of fertiliser applied to feed crops (Section 4.1).
–  Prices (Appendix C).

The most important animal-related factors when analyzing the milk system are the lactation, amount of feed intake, the live weight and milk yield. Among these factors there are partial interactions. Therefore most of the effects are related to each other.

The milk yield in the United Kingdom in 1990 was 15,251 t of raw milk and 31,307 t in Germany (FAOSTAT 2013). The average live weight of animals was 572 kg and 608 kg respectively in the UK and Germany. Data concerning the composition of feed are also important. However information concerning composition of ration is not always available for 1990 or difficult to find.

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