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Is the Grass Always Greener? Comparing the Environmental Impact of Conventional, Natural and Grass-Fed Beef Production Systems.

Capper JL - Animals (Basel) (2012)

Bottom Line: Increased productivity (slaughter weight and growth rate) in the CON system reduced the cattle population size required to produce 1.0 × 10⁸ kg of beef compared to the NAT or GFD system.The CON system required 56.3% of the animals, 24.8% of the water, 55.3% of the land and 71.4% of the fossil fuel energy required to produce 1.0 × 10⁸ kg of beef compared to the GFD system.The challenge to the U.S beef industry is to communicate differences in system environmental impacts to facilitate informed dietary choice.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Animal Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164, USA. capper@wsu.edu.

ABSTRACT
This study compared the environmental impact of conventional, natural and grass-fed beef production systems. A deterministic model based on the metabolism and nutrient requirements of the beef population was used to quantify resource inputs and waste outputs per 1.0 × 10⁸ kg of hot carcass weight beef in conventional (CON), natural (NAT) and grass-fed (GFD) production systems. Production systems were modeled using characteristic management practices, population dynamics and production data from U.S. beef production systems. Increased productivity (slaughter weight and growth rate) in the CON system reduced the cattle population size required to produce 1.0 × 10⁸ kg of beef compared to the NAT or GFD system. The CON system required 56.3% of the animals, 24.8% of the water, 55.3% of the land and 71.4% of the fossil fuel energy required to produce 1.0 × 10⁸ kg of beef compared to the GFD system. The carbon footprint per 1.0 × 10⁸ kg of beef was lowest in the CON system (15,989 × 10³ t), intermediate in the NAT system (18,772 × 10³ t) and highest in the GFD system (26,785 × 10³ t). The challenge to the U.S beef industry is to communicate differences in system environmental impacts to facilitate informed dietary choice.

No MeSH data available.


Schematic representation of the animal systems modeled within the study.
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animals-02-00127-f002: Schematic representation of the animal systems modeled within the study.

Mentions: The model worked step-wise backwards through the production chain. The functional unit (1.0 × 109 kg of hot carcass weight beef) and the slaughter characteristics of the various beef populations determined the number of slaughter animals required and thus the total beef population size. The numbers of animals within each of the six sub-systems (cow-calf unit, stocker operation, pre-grass-finishing system, feedlot, grass-finishing system and dairy population) contained within the animal system sub-model (ASSM; Figure 2) were derived from the total slaughter population size according to sub-system-specific productivity metrics (mortality, growth rate) as detailed in Section 2.2 and Section 2.3, and pro-rated on an annual basis according to the number of days spent within each system.


Is the Grass Always Greener? Comparing the Environmental Impact of Conventional, Natural and Grass-Fed Beef Production Systems.

Capper JL - Animals (Basel) (2012)

Schematic representation of the animal systems modeled within the study.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4494320&req=5

animals-02-00127-f002: Schematic representation of the animal systems modeled within the study.
Mentions: The model worked step-wise backwards through the production chain. The functional unit (1.0 × 109 kg of hot carcass weight beef) and the slaughter characteristics of the various beef populations determined the number of slaughter animals required and thus the total beef population size. The numbers of animals within each of the six sub-systems (cow-calf unit, stocker operation, pre-grass-finishing system, feedlot, grass-finishing system and dairy population) contained within the animal system sub-model (ASSM; Figure 2) were derived from the total slaughter population size according to sub-system-specific productivity metrics (mortality, growth rate) as detailed in Section 2.2 and Section 2.3, and pro-rated on an annual basis according to the number of days spent within each system.

Bottom Line: Increased productivity (slaughter weight and growth rate) in the CON system reduced the cattle population size required to produce 1.0 × 10⁸ kg of beef compared to the NAT or GFD system.The CON system required 56.3% of the animals, 24.8% of the water, 55.3% of the land and 71.4% of the fossil fuel energy required to produce 1.0 × 10⁸ kg of beef compared to the GFD system.The challenge to the U.S beef industry is to communicate differences in system environmental impacts to facilitate informed dietary choice.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Animal Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164, USA. capper@wsu.edu.

ABSTRACT
This study compared the environmental impact of conventional, natural and grass-fed beef production systems. A deterministic model based on the metabolism and nutrient requirements of the beef population was used to quantify resource inputs and waste outputs per 1.0 × 10⁸ kg of hot carcass weight beef in conventional (CON), natural (NAT) and grass-fed (GFD) production systems. Production systems were modeled using characteristic management practices, population dynamics and production data from U.S. beef production systems. Increased productivity (slaughter weight and growth rate) in the CON system reduced the cattle population size required to produce 1.0 × 10⁸ kg of beef compared to the NAT or GFD system. The CON system required 56.3% of the animals, 24.8% of the water, 55.3% of the land and 71.4% of the fossil fuel energy required to produce 1.0 × 10⁸ kg of beef compared to the GFD system. The carbon footprint per 1.0 × 10⁸ kg of beef was lowest in the CON system (15,989 × 10³ t), intermediate in the NAT system (18,772 × 10³ t) and highest in the GFD system (26,785 × 10³ t). The challenge to the U.S beef industry is to communicate differences in system environmental impacts to facilitate informed dietary choice.

No MeSH data available.