Monday, February 10, 2014

Greenhouse Gas Lies Exposed - Facts about Grass Fed Cattle Flatulence...

Grass Fed Cattle are Carbon Negative (and Flavor Positive!)

Found this in a more recent Kit Pharo newsletter:

Reality of Ruminents and Conventional Wisdom of CO2 emissionsTaking Out the Carbage
By Peter Ballerstedt

I’m preparing for my participation in the 2012 Ancestral Health Symposium (  The symposium will take place at the Harvard Law School August 9th-11th.  Not a bad gig for a forage agronomist!  The title of my presentation is The Reality of Ruminants and Liebeg’s Barrel: Examining the New ‘Conventional Wisdom'.  One of the themes of this year’s symposium is sustainability.  I don’t see that term in the simplistic way many do, in part because I remember being told by leaders of the sustainable agriculture movement that “animals have no place in sustainable ag!”

The truth is that the production of animal products from perennial forages is the sustainable agricultural system.  Many, however, are concerned about the carbon dioxide and methane “emissions” from livestock in general, and cattle in particular.  Some folks don’t seem to understand that a cow grazing grass can only emit carbon that was originally in grass, and that the carbon in grass has to have come from the atmosphere.  So it’s a cycle, not an “enrichment.”  But there’s more to it than that!

Under the following assumptions:

Carbon/Nitrogen ratio = 17 and 3.4% N, giving 57.8 % C
3% of body weight daily dry matter (DM) intake; 1,000 lb cow = 30 lb DM per day
70% utilization - 30 lb DM eaten / 0.70 = 42.8 lb DM offered
Equal above and below ground DM distribution
90% of C consumed is “emitted”

We’d see:
42.8 lb DM above ground, 42.8 lb DM below ground – 85.6 lb DM total
57.8% C in DM – 49.5 lb C total
17.3 lb C consumed
15.6 lb C emitted

For every pound of carbon “emitted” by a cow on grass, 3.2 pounds of carbon are fixed in plant roots, uneaten plant debris, or the cow herself or her calf.  Even if 100% of carbon she ingested is emitted, there’d be 2.9 pounds of carbon fixed for every pound emitted!  Beef cattle are carbon negative!
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