May 12, 2016   •   News

Livestock and Climate Change

The college of Agricultural and Environmental Science, UC Davis has posted an interesting article on “Facts and Fiction on Livestock and Climate Change” by Frank Mitloehner, Professor UC Davis.

Professor Mitloehner shows the proportion of US total GHG emissions from livestock production (4.2%) in comparison with emissions from other sectors.  Suggesting that a direct comparison between emissions from the US livestock sector and the energy (31%) and transport sectors (27%) brings into perspective the amount of difference that can be made by reducing livestock emissions.

Of course that is not to suggest that the livestock sector is not required to play its part in reducing emissions. The article shares impressive statistics from the US beef and dairy sectors showing how production from both sectors has increased over the last 50-65 years, although the total number of livestock has decreased.

Dairy:

  • 1950: 22 million dairy cows produced 117 million tons milk
  • 2015: 9 million dairy cows produced 209 million tons of milk. (Fifty-nine percent fewer cows produced 79 percent more milk than they did in 1950.)

Beef:

  • 1970: 140 million head of cattle produced 24 million tons of beef
  • 2015: 90 million (36 percent fewer) head of cattle produce 24 million tons of beef

The full article can be read on the UC Davis website.

For information on some of the management practices that the US are using to continue reducing emissions from their dairy sector in particular see the case studies developed by the Livestock Research Group.