Efficiencies in cattle production and feeding have reduced the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from cattle, according to a study by a team led by Tim McAllister of the federal agriculture research station at Lethbridge.
The livestock industry has been identified as a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), but the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) claimed Monday that the beef industry accounts for only 3.6 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas production and 0.072 per cent of global greenhouse gas production.
At the same time, lands that grow grasses and legumes for cattle sequester carbon, thereby reducing GHGs, the Roundtable said.
McAllister’s group compared beef production in 1981 and 2011 and found that the same amount of slaughter weight was produced, with a 14 per cent decline in methane emissions, 15 per cent decline in nitrous dioxide emissions and a 12 per cent decline in carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use.
What it did not compare was the number of cattle in 1981 and 2011.
Enteric methane production — that is, belches and farts — accounted for 73 per cent of total GHG emissions in both years.