British researchers have concluded what New Zealand farms have been saying for years: grass-fed beef is better :
Feeding cattle on grass throughout their lifecycle is the most environmentally sustainable way to rear beef, according to new research for the National Trust.
One of the biggest global challenges is how to increase food security whilst reducing the environmental impacts of food production.
Livestock – like cattle and sheep – produce high levels of methane as part of the process of digesting grass. This has led to suggestions that intensive production methods – where cattle are fed largely on cereals, producing less methane – should be preferred over more traditional grass-fed livestock farming.
However, in this report, research at 10 Trust farms shows that while the carbon footprint of grass-fed and conventional farms were comparable, the carbon sequestration contribution of well-managed grass pasture on the less intensive systems reduced net emissions by up to 94 per cent, even resulting in a carbon ‘net gain’ in upland areas. The farms that had recently converted to organic status showed even greater gains. . .
The research found that grass-fed beef is better for the environment and human health:
“The debate about climate change and food often calls for a reduction of meat consumption and a more plant based diet, but this often overlooks the fact that many grasslands are unsuitable for continuous arable cropping.
“Grasslands support a range of ecosystems services including water resources, biodiversity and carbon capture and storage. Grazing livestock not only contributes to their maintenance but also turns grass into human-edible food.”
Other recent research found that the health benefits of beef (and lamb) are greater when animals are fed totally on grass – their natural food. Omega 3 fatty acids – recognised as essential to good physical and mental health – are higher in meat from grass and the levels of saturated fat are a third of grain fed beef.
Hat Tip: Tony Chaston