Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Livestock

Image: Max Pixel, Cow eating farm, CC0 Public Domain
18 September 2018

If the US were to shift to entirely grass-finished beef (vs. grain-finished), then the US cattle population would have to increase by 30% relative to today, because grass-fed cattle gain weight more slowly than those fattened in feedlots. Furthermore, existing pastures would have to become 40%-370% more productive to avoid converting more natural habitat to farmland or competition with human food supply. Methane emissions from the cattle’s digestive systems might increase by 43%, again because of slower growth rates.

Image: Pixnio, Cows, grazing, cattle, Public Domain
12 September 2018

Writing in the Guardian, Isabella Tree of Knepp Castle Estate argues that vegan diets ignore the potential of wildlife-friendly livestock grazing methods. Tree claims that not using anti-worming agents or antibiotics allows cow dung to feed various soil organisms, contributing to soil restoration and wildlife diversity.

Image: trf57, Sheep New Zealand, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
12 September 2018

New Zealand’s Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has released a report exploring how much and over what timescale the climate is affected by methane emissions from livestock. It focused on two questions. First,if methane emissions from livestock were held at current levels or followed business-as-usual trajectories, what would their contribution to future warming be? Second, what reduction in methane emissions from livestock would be needed so that they cause no additional contribution to warming?

Image: Bob Blaylock, Saccharomyces cerevisiae — baker's yeast, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
10 July 2018

A new paper has estimated the economic and environmental potential of feeding livestock with industrially-fermented microbes such as bacteria, yeast, fungi and algae instead of crop-based feed. The study finds that microbial protein could replace 10-19% of crop-based animal feed protein, with decreases in land use, climate impact and nitrogen pollution.

Image: Image: Felix_Broennimann, Pig domestic suckle, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
26 June 2018

This paper, by FCRN member Hannah van Zanten (and whose authors include FCRN director Tara Garnett), calculates that a food system where livestock are fed only on food waste and industrial and agricultural by-products could provide 9 to 23 g of animal protein to the daily human diet (compared to daily protein needs of 50 to 60 g per person) while using one quarter less land than a food system with no livestock. The paper notes that the waste-fed livestock system could allow people in Asia and Africa to increase their consumption of animal protein, but that current consumption levels in other areas are higher than would be possible under a waste-fed livestock system.

11 June 2018

Sixty suppliers of meat and fish have been ranked according to their management of nine sustainability categories, in an index prepared by Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR), a London-based investor initiative focused on the environmental, social and ethical issues of factory farming. 60% of the companies assessed are deemed “high-risk” on their overall sustainability strategy (or lack of it). Antibiotics are the most poorly managed risk, while waste and pollution are the best-managed risks.

15 May 2018

This book, by Henry Buller and Emma Roe, examines issues of animal welfare in the food supply chain. Topics include the care of farm animals, the ethics of using welfare as a marketing tool and the links between globalisation of farm animal welfare.

24 April 2018

Eating Better has published a new report setting out their suggested approach to eating “less and better” meat and dairy. They set out eight principles, including: eat less meat and dairy; reduce waste; choose smaller scale, higher standard producers; and avoid livestock fed on imported feedstuffs such as soy. The report also includes a guide to assurance and labelling schemes to help people choose better meat and dairy.

26 March 2018

This report from the UK NGO Sustainable Food Trust shows that one in three small abattoirs in the UK have closed in the last decade, which could mean that marketing locally-produced, traceable meat will not be possible in some areas.

Image: Pete, The Cows…, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
19 March 2018

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh have sequenced the genomes of 913 types of microbes found inside cows’ digestive systems, hoping to discover more about the types of enzymes that the microbes use to break down the food.

19 March 2018

Author Barry Estabrook explores the American pork industry in search of more responsible production systems.

19 March 2018

The 2017 Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare report analyses farm animal welfare management and performance of 110 global food companies, including retailers, wholesalers, food producers, restaurants and bars.

Image: Andrew, New Laund Breakfast, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
6 March 2018

This study, undertaken by researchers at Michigan State University and the Union of Concerned Scientists, compares the net greenhouse gas (GHG) balance of two different beef finishing systems in the Upper Midwest, of the United States: a feedlot system; and a grazing system based on adaptive multi-paddock (AMP) grazing principles.

6 March 2018

The FAO has just published a briefing paper which proposes three ways to substantially reduce emissions from livestock production.

Image: USDA, 20130920-OC-LSC-0594, Flickr, Public Domain
26 February 2018

Three letters have been published in a recent edition of PNAS criticising the assumptions and conclusions drawn by a 2017 paper which sought to quantify the greenhouse gas (GHG) and nutritional implications of completely eliminating animals from US agriculture. A rebuttal letter by the authors of the original 2017 paper appears alongside the three letters in the journal.

20 February 2018

This short white paper, produced for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2018 in Davos-Klosters, explores some issues around the production and consumption of meat.

Image: U.S. Department of Agriculture, 20180124-OSEC-PJK-1015_TONED_1, Flickr, Creative Commons Public Domain Mark 1.0
6 February 2018

The Protein Challenge 2040's new report, 'The feed behind our food', sets out why retailers and food service businesses should act on sustainability in animal feed.

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