Livestock gas emissions

Asked February 10, 2019, 12:48 PM EST

Do horses emit greenhouse gases? How much per individual compared to cows?

Horry County South Carolina

1 Response

Yes, horses emit greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gas emissions from livestock are primarily driven by the size of the animal, the type of digestive system, the type and amount of feed consumed, and the manure handling practices. Ruminants (e.g., cows, sheep, goats) lose approximately 4-10% of their energy intake during the digestion process (enteric fermentation) as methane. Horses are monogastric animals and therefore have lower greenhouse gas emissions than cows (ruminants), but still produce a significant amount of methane. A publication by Kansas State "Carbon Footprint of Livestock Production" provides a ball park figure of 470, 1705, and 4854 kg CO2 equivalents/head/year, for horses, beef cattle, and dairy cattle, respectively.