A global assessment of the Water Footprint of Farm Animal Products


Mekonnen, M.M. and Hoekstra, A.Y. (2012) A global assessment of the Water Footprint of Farm Animal Products. Ecosystems, 15 (3). 401 - 415. ISSN 1432-9840

open access
Abstract:The increase in the consumption of animal products
is likely to put further pressure on the world’s
freshwater resources. This paper provides a comprehensive
account of the water footprint of animal
products, considering different production systems
and feed composition per animal type and country.
Nearly one-third of the total water footprint of
agriculture in the world is related to the production
of animal products. The water footprint of any
animal product is larger than the water footprint of
crop products with equivalent nutritional value.
The average water footprint per calorie for beef is
20 times larger than for cereals and starchy roots.
The water footprint per gram of protein for milk,
eggs and chicken meat is 1.5 times larger than for
pulses. The unfavorable feed conversion efficiency
for animal products is largely responsible for the
relatively large water footprint of animal products
compared to the crop products. Animal products
from industrial systems generally consume and
pollute more ground- and surface-water resources
than animal products from grazing or mixed systems.
The rising global meat consumption and the
intensification of animal production systems will
put further pressure on the global freshwater
resources in the coming decades. The study shows
that from a freshwater perspective, animal products
from grazing systems have a smaller blue and grey
water footprint than products from industrial systems,
and that it is more water-efficient to obtain
calories, protein and fat through crop products than
animal products
Item Type:Article
Additional information:Open access
Copyright:© The Authors
Engineering Technology (CTW)
Research Group:
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/publications/80897
Official URL:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10021-011-9517-8
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