This paper concentrates on livestock production systems by introducing sustainable housing characteristics, and the type of information required to make an informed choice on environmentally sound materials and systems. It then compares energy use in two contrasting beef cattle systems, one a conventional straw-bedded court and roofed silo, with feed delivered by a side-delivery wagon, and the other a roofless woodchip corral and earth-bank silo, with feed delivered by fore-end loader. The woodchip corral system requires 70% less energy than the conventional bedded court, when the total energy inputs are analysed for preparation of the building materials, construction of the livestock accommodation with associated feed and waste storage, and manufacture and operation of machinery. However, when energy used in feed production is included this dominates the energy budget, accounting for 60% of all energy used in the conventional bedded court, and 85% of energy used in the woodchip corral system.
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