Beef and land

21st May, 2011 - Posted by admin - 1 Comment

“If each of us would simply reduce our beef consumption to about half … Our food problem may be manageable with minimum pain”…

Why is the beef footprint so large? Using DOC figures on numbers of beef cattle and acres of pasture in some of the biggest beef-producing counties in Nebraska, Texas and Colorado, the average beef cow requires about 10 acres of pastureland. Before most of these cows go to the slaughterhouse, they spend 120 to 150 days being fattened in a feedlot where the average cow consumes about 2600 pounds of grain. This grain on average represents 0.4 acre of arable land. Thus each beef cow has a footprint of about 10.4 acres. At slaughter, the average cow weighs an estimated 1,200 pounds. Only half of that shows up as meat in the supermarket. Each pound of meat that we buy therefore represents 1/600 of the beef cow’s footprint, or about 0.017 acres. That doesn’t seem like much, but the average U. S. citizen consumed 63 pounds of beef in 1994 (DOA), so that our per-capita beef footprint was about 1.07 acres. Much of that acreage is arable land that could be used to raise foods with smaller footprints. If each of us would simply reduce our beef consumption to about half of our present consumption on a yearly basis (about 30 pounds – slightly more than 1/2 pound per week), and substitute chicken or pork, for example, which are the meats with the next largest footprints (both about 0.0009 acres/pound), we would go a long way toward permitting a world population of 10 billion to have a potentially sustainable diet comparable to ours. Our food problem may be manageable with minimum pain

Evaluating Ecological Footprints, Electronic Green Journal

The above gives the yield of beef as 66 kgs per hectare.

Another source gives yield of soya beans (in North America) as 2170 kgs per hectare.

So it’s … 30 times more soya than beef per hectare.<\b>

Posted on: May 21, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized

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[...] is that the rich (i.e. us) turn lots of food growing capacity into not much food at all. Foods like beef and lamb require many more times the land area (and other resources) than fruit, vegetables and [...]

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