Beef Buzz News
Beef Production Gaining Efficiency, While Reducing Environmental Impact
Thu, 25 Jun 2015 19:15:25 CDT
Producing more with less. That’s the goal of sustainability. Dr. Sara Place, associate professor of animal science at Oklahoma State University has been tackling this very issue for the beef industry. She recently presented at the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) convention in Biloxi, Mississippi. She told scientists that American producers are doing a good job in terms of sustainability. Over the last 25 to 30 years, a tremendous amount of improvement has been made across all sectors of animal agriculture, but especially in the beef sector.
Ron Hays Beef Buzzes with Dr. Sara Place of OSU
“We essentially produce the same amount of beef today with 30 percent fewer animals,” Place said. “That’s a tremendous change in efficiency, if we are thinking about using our resources more wisely if we have a growing population.”
A study published in the Journal of Animal Science showed that change over the thirty year span of 1977 to 2007. The project was conducted by Dr. Jude Capper. She is an independent Livestock Sustainability Consultant based in Bozeman, Montana and holds adjunct professor and affiliate positions at Washington State University and Montana State University, respectively. In looking at the categories such as resource use and environmental impact, Dr. Place said the research showed there were declines in all those categories.
“So what’s happening here, production efficiency, we are doing more with less," Place said. “If we have a growing world population, we have one planet Earth, we’re going to need to do a lot more of this, right? Doing more with less is really key and the industry has been doing that.”
Beef production efficiency is effected by a whole host of factors from genetics to reproductive efficiency. Dr. Place said all of those things can help lower environmental impact.
Another one of the three pillars of beef sustainability are social issues. Dr. Place said that’s where animal welfare comes into play. While intensive systems can lower agriculture’s environmental impact, she said consumers don’t have a favorable view of those concepts.
“Whether we are thinking about feedlots, confinement dairies, battery cages, gestation stalls, etc., all of those things have been in the news, in terms of how people perceive those issues,” Place said. “And in the United States, 100 percent of us are eaters, but only about two percent are actually involved in the production of that food, right? So, we can’t ignore what 98 percent of people are thinking. That would be convenient, but that’s not going to help us out in terms of how we deal with these issues.”
The one image that isn’t on that list is the cow-calf sector. Dr. Place said so the beef industry probably has an advantage in terms of that pastoral image being something consumers like to see.
Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays featured Dr. Place on the Beef Buzz feature. Click or tap on the LISTEN BAR below to listen to today's Beef Buzz.
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