Stories, opinions, facts, convictions, and lessons learned from a small town farm girl.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Improving the Efficiency of Beef Production

It has been eons since I've last posted ... October? I have certainly let time get away from me, seeing as we're halfway through March.  I was inspired this morning to begin posting again as I read a blog of someone whom I admire very much, and I encourage you all to read and follow her postings - very cute, little tales of what life's like on the farm. Check out Melissa Beck's 'Calf Tales ... Rural Life in Arkansas'.  Melissa is my graduate advisor's wife, so I've had the pleasure of getting to know her through him.

A lot has happened since I've last written ... with the most grand change being that I will be a WIFE in June of this year!  In October of 2011, my boyfriend of 4 years asked me to marry him, to which I happily replied 'YES!'  So life has taken me on the wild ride of wedding planning while completing a thesis and preparing to graduate with my Master's in May, just a short month before I will walk down the isle.  Yikes!

While my life is about to change in big ways, there are also other changes occurring that are dear to my heart - the efficiency of cattle production in the United States.  I receive daily Drover's Cattle Network news emails - which I enjoy reading religiously on my phone before I crawl out of bed in the morning - and this morning, while reading a highlighted article, I saw another that caught my eye: Thirty Years of Improving Beef's Environmental Impact by Dr. Jude Capper.  It is a short, yet educational and informative article on segments of the beef industry and the strides we've taken to improve the efficiency of cattle production.

The article, summarizing Capper's work, states,
"By improving production efficiency, a reduction in the environmental impact is achieved by a dilution of maintenance energy requirements.  For the beef industry, this does not occur daily on an individual basis, but across individual animals over time and, on average, across the whole industry. The energy requirements for growing steers were 14,100 calories per day in 1977 and 20,300 calories per day in 2007.  However, because of the shorter days to harvest in 2007, only 27,000 calories were required to produce one pound of beef in 2007 compared to 30,593 calories in 1977.  Combined with the heavier carcass weights of modern cattle, in 2007 the United States produced almost 2.9 million more pounds of beef while harvesting 825,000 fewer cattle than 1977..."
"...Despite the fact that resources required are only 66 – 86% of what they were in 1977, the amount of beef per animal is increased 128%.  In addition, improvements in efficiency of nutrient and energy use have resulted in less manure production and greenhouse gas emissions."
 This chart shows the reduction in greenhouse gas emission since 1977 in today's production systems. Although I haven't jumped on the bandwagon much with the new pop culture trends in health, nutrition, and "going green", improving the efficiency of our ag systems is something I feel very strongly about, and research proving just how far we've come is beyond exciting for me.  So, I love this graph and all that it represents for our cattle industry.  Pretty impressive, if ya ask me.
 Have a wonderful week!

1 comment:

  1. Nice research, i bet that any helpfull information is goin to improve the results of any farm. Im looking info about cattle improvement and is always good to find info on blogs of farmers above all, you guys are always on the field. If you ever want to know something about agriculture in Colombia i recommend you http://www.agronet.gov.co it has a button for english! HAve a nice life on your farm!!! Thanks for the info!

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