Manitoba cattle producer says his cows sustain the environment

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Manitoba cattle producer says his cows sustain the environment

Jun 8, 2016 | 08:29 1 Name:  Tomt - hat.jpg
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Size:  21.8 KB Harry Siemens – When so-called experts want to tell the cattle producers about sustaining the environment or cattle producers and their commodity, cattle is destroying the environment there is enough good evidence and research to show how good cattle really are for the environment.

Canada’s beef industry continues to improve efficiencies that lessen its environmental impacts, with the production of one kilogram of Canadian beef creating 15 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions in 2011 compared to 1981, says a new study.

Continual improvements in production and feed efficiencies, crop yields and management strategies, resulting in reduced emissions and resource requirements, are largely responsible for the significant decrease in environmental impact, according to the first results of a comprehensive five-year (2013-2018) study examining the Canadian beef industry’s environmental `footprint. The results are in the journal Animal Production Science.

Tom Teichroeb, a cattle producer at Langruth says Clayton Robins, @ClaytonRobins is an expert on some of the research on sustainability and how using beef cattle on conventional grain land has improved topsoil conditions in almost every aspect. Further research shows that with improved feeding and management techniques, the carbon footprint is virtually negligible. “I had a conversation with Clayton at Ag days in Brandon and he was a keynote speaker (pertaining to this very issue) in the US just a couple weeks ago,” says Teichroeb.

Secondly, he says there is excellent research from the University of Manitoba, courtesy of Dr. Kim Ominski. As an aside, the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation has recognized the benefits of sustainable production practices in their projects by including livestock on most of their projects.

“Why is this so important to myself as well as the beef industry,” he says. “Growth of the beef industry. That is very hard to achieve long term when there is a perception that the beef industry is harmful to the environment. And that is why the beef sector is in a win-win situation when there is research that supports beef cattle are NOT detrimental to the environment.”

Conducted by researchers at the University of Manitoba, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Lethbridge and Environment Canada, the study found there is a 15 per cent decrease in methane, 16 per cent decrease in nitrous dioxide and 13 percent decrease in carbon dioxide from beef production in Canada over the past 30 years. Comparing the same time periods, it took 29 percent fewer cattle in the breeding herd and 24 percent less land to produce the same amount of beef.

Funded by the Beef Cattle Industry Science Cluster, the study explored the entire production system – from cow-calf to feedlot. Future phases of the study will assess the impact of Canadian beef production in areas such as water use, biodiversity, and provision of ecosystems services.

The results of this study speak to the industry’s commitment to continuous improvement and sustainability. It will also provide important historical information to the environmental component of the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB)’s first-ever National Beef Sustainability Assessment. The CRSB sustainability assessment will benchmark the industry’s social, economic and environmental impact using 2013 as the baseline. The assessment will be revisited, and progress evaluated every five years.

Results from the remaining phases of the industry environmental footprint study, including water use, biodiversity and provision of ecosystems services, are expected in 2018.



When confronted with the question as presented at the recent Banff Pork Seminar the farming community must be careful it doesn’t get duped into thinking and believing and being told by other non-farmers how to farm according to their beliefs.

“Yes, we can prove that our practices are good for the environment, and as producers you are doing everything within your power to make a living sustainably,” says one Banff observer.

Teichroeb says he’s on the same page.

“I did not mention hogs or grain farming directly, but for the most part, all three sectors have sound science behind them,” he says. “The aforementioned people that I suggested are the people who support the ag sector with science and we the people in the industry are working with them collaboratively to tell the real story. And that is what I believe we need to achieve.”

Teichroeb who has fought long and hard to save his own ranch and those of others in his area at Langruth via man-made floods isn’t about to let those who know nothing about cattle ranching take away the potential of real growth in his industry using information not based on fact.

“The information based on solid research showing we more than do our part to sustain our environment by raising cattle is what the public needs to read and hear,” he says. Reply With Quote
Jun 8, 2016 | 17:32 2 I tend to agree with his general view and I certainly don't want to talk myself out of a job but we need to take a hard look at the figures. From information I've read Greenhouse gasses from livestock make up as much as 40% of Manitoba's ag emissions and maybe 20% of overall provincial emissions.

Cattle are the biggest culprits as I've read they produce 300kgs of CO2 equivalent (because its methane they emit which is 30 times more damaging than CO2) per kilo of beef produced.
Pork or chicken produce around 50kg per kilo produced by comparison. Now I'm not sure if the emissions caused during the feed being produced for the hogs and chickens is properly accounted for in these figures.

Its an irony that the moves many of us have made in low cost cattle production by reducing our fossil fuel usage cause more emissions to be released by the animals themselves (because the feed is often less digestible - cereal straw, mature banked grass etc) They say cattle produced in a feedlot on a high grain ration would produce less greenhouse gasses but again is the grain production properly accounted for? The trucking of cattle to feedlot the feed in and manure out?

Eliminating or reducing cattle numbers is something people might call for but what happens to the land? If it gets broken up and cropped we might be worse off in terms of emissions. Haven't seen comparable figures for canola or wheat production. In more bush/pasture areas unsuitable for cropping where cows are often summered their removal would see an explosion of the ungulate population and guess what? they have emissions too. Are you going to keeping culling all of them?

There are a lot of complexities involved in figuring this out and greenhouse gas emissions are only one part of the whole climate change discussion. I think its a discussion we should be having and I think you should post this on the beef forum also. Reply With Quote
Jun 8, 2016 | 19:43 3 True grass. We worry about the methane farts from cows while 150 years ago millions of bison which are a bovine cousin roamed everywhere farting, burping, and shitting. Nature abhors to vacuum. Same with bush. When my ancestors settled the farm there wasn't a single tree. Between fire and bison grazing it kept the bush away. Once land started getting broke and fire hazard diminished trees have flourished. In fact the timber line has encroached 50 to 100 miles south since the west was settled. Reply With Quote
Jun 8, 2016 | 21:23 4 Reckoned to be about 30 million buffalo on the Great Plains at peak, over 100 million cattle in the US/Canada now? We are heavier stocked now but 30 million was a large number too. Reply With Quote
Jun 8, 2016 | 21:23 5
Quote Originally Posted by WiltonRanch View Post
True grass. We worry about the methane farts from cows while 150 years ago millions of bison which are a bovine cousin roamed everywhere farting, burping, and shitting. Nature abhors to vacuum. Same with bush. When my ancestors settled the farm there wasn't a single tree. Between fire and bison grazing it kept the bush away. Once land started getting broke and fire hazard diminished trees have flourished. In fact the timber line has encroached 50 to 100 miles south since the west was settled.
Name:  Messages Image(637217670).jpg
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Size:  86.4 KB Check this out, and see how much gas is destroying the planet lol. Reply With Quote
Jun 9, 2016 | 06:03 6 I did check it out and its nonsense. Was the 25% reduction a mistake with the decimal point or an attempt at deception? Looking at this graph would indicate @2.5% reduction.

http://https://www.ec.gc.ca/indicateurs-indicators/default.asp?lang=en&n=FBF8455E-1

The argument that Canada going it alone won't stop global emissions is also weak - what about collective responsibility? Canada has committed to a 30% reduction in emissions by 2030 so a roughly 2.5% decrease over a decade isn't going to get us there - moving the decimal point to the right might be convenient but its not a real solution lol. Reply With Quote
Jun 9, 2016 | 06:21 7 Grassfarmer in Canada we have fairly cold weather 6 months of the year. Is affordable heat a right? When it is -40 natural gas for my furnace is a necessity. If it became to expensive I would probably put in a wood stove which is worse for the environment.


Anyway as far as cattle go it is also the water usage that enviromentalists will go after. Lots of land not suitable for grain production and should never be anything but grass. Reply With Quote
Jun 9, 2016 | 08:35 8 Hamloc you make a good argument for the development of solar, hydro-electric etc power generation all of which are relatively emission free. Reply With Quote
Jun 9, 2016 | 10:40 9 Renewables will and should have their place. So should nuclear. There is plenty of coal to keep us going for generations but it's dirty. Ng is okay but more finite and really should be conserved for posterity. There is no way around the need for hydrocarbons anytime soon but if we can lessen the need it makes not only environmental sense but also the argument for national security and economic independence. Babbling about carbon, methane and other gasses becomes trivial to me. Pollution is pollution whether it's in the air, all the crap we throw in the dump, or what gets tossed in the water. Reply With Quote