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Feedlot Steers:  Evaluating Resource Management
  1. How much grain is needed to feed one feedlot steer for one year (or for the life of the steer)?

In rearing beef cattle, there are two main stages that an animal is subjected to. These involve the bringing up and the finishing stages of the process. In the bringing up of the calf, feeding can be embarked on two levels. Firstly, the calf can be allowed to suck its mother for some time before it can be introduced to grass and other feeds. Secondly, the calf can be fed with fortified grains and/or grass from the moment it is born to the moment it acquires 400 to 600 pounds in body weight. After this stage, finishing for beef cattle is embarked on to increase the weight of the animals. In this stage, grain is the major feed that the animal is fed in order to gain as much weight as possible. The finishing stage only requires duration of 7 months to fully mature an animal before meat harvesting. During the finishing stage, 3,000 pounds of grains are consumed by the animal for the duration of 7 months. Assessing the amount of grain consumed by one animal within a year, the figure translates to 5142.857 (12/7 x 3000) pounds of grain.

  1. How many people could that amount of grain feed?

In this case, the amount of grain consumed by one feedlot steer within a year can be consumed by 23,749 people taking an average human grain-consumption to be 6.7 ounces. This means the amount of grain consumed by one feedlot steer in a year can be consumed by 65 (23,749/(6.7*365) people for the same duration.

  1. What are the arguments for and against a reduction of animal agriculture to ease world hunger?

With statistics like the ones outlined above, it is clear that various organizations around the globe are justified in promoting more vegetation agriculture than animal agriculture. According to Kristian, animal agriculture contributes to world hunger in that a lot of food stuff that can directly be consumed by humans is cultivated to feed beef cattle. For example, extensive public land is used to grow corn that is fed to feedlot steers in order to fatten them for commercial purposes. The fact that steers are fattened for commercial purposes is not a factor that interrupts the world’s fight against hunger. However, the fact that one steer would require 16 pounds of grain to gain one pound of flesh is a remarkably wasteful approach to the utilization of resources. In this case, it means that, if the 6.7 ounce of grain dietary requirement for humans still holds, atleast 73 people can feed from the 16 pounds of grain. In this case, it is argued that animal agriculture does not regulate, instead, it adds to world hunger levels.

  1. How much water does it take to raise a feedlot steer or produce a pound of meat?

With regards to the weight of a feedlot steer, water consumption varies with respect to other variables. Some of these variables that influence the level of water consumption include air temperature, diet type, , dry matter intake, , animal size, breed, humidity, moisture level in diet, salt intake, physical activity and growth rate (Mississippi State University, 2000). With all the above variables considered, a feedlot steer ranging from a calf to a full-fledged meat pack can consume about 4.0 to 8.7 gallons of water per day. For maximum consumption of water, an average of 3175.5 gallons of water are consumed within a year (with all factors considered, total water consumption can be calculated as not all breeds take the same amount).

  1. How much oil?

While food and water are some direct products consumed by the feedlot steer, other products like oil add up to the cost of maintenance and effective rearing of the steers. According to varying data sources, the average amount of oil used in the raising of feedlot steer is about 208 gallons of crude oil. Other figures from freelance researchers allege that improved agricultural production has lowered this figure to 13.83 gallons of oil. However, the 208-gallon figure is calculated with respect to winter, rate of growth of grain plants, type of breed consuming the grains, consumption level per year, and the rate of growth of the steer. The 208-gallon figure corresponds with the amount of land requires to graze a grass-based cattle rearing

  1. How much land?

However, ignoring the average land needed to raise one steer successfully, research by Maguns, and Earthjustice, shows that the land needed to raise a grass-based steer in Pennsylvania is about 2 acres controlling for rainfall fluctuations. However, a significant consumption-rate difference is accounted. While the average amount of grain needed to yield one pound of flesh is 16 pounds, the same pound of flesh would be created by the consumption of 26 pounds of hay.

  1. For grass-fed steer, how much PUBLIC land is used for cattle grazing?

The amount of land needed for feedlot steers to fully mature is about 16 feet squared as compared to the 2 acre land needed for grass fed steer.

  1. Why have grazing practices of the 20th century (and in many places, still in effect) been unsustainable?

With reference to land use and wasteful consumption of resources, many 20th century grazing practices have been unsustainable. While beef cattle are solely bred for commercial purposes, the inputs outweigh the returns, hence, disqualifying various grazing practices. For example, zero grazing has worked successfully for farmers for many years. However, the 20th century zero grazing has succumbed to overpopulation of animals.

  1. Besides wasteful resource use, what other consequences did you discover?

Overpopulation of beef cattle has resulted to animal deaths due to diseases and easy spreading of infections. The same problem has faced cattle raised in a ranch as high numbers lead to overconsumption of the available pastures[4].

  1. Report effects on climate disruption, pollution, human disease, and biodiversity loss. Not everyone will want to stop or reduce their beef consumption.

In the raising of beef cattle, animal sickness resulting from congestion in feedlots is another consequence that has been discovered in this investigative study. Congestion in feedlots has made it hard for farmers to identify and isolate sick animals. The result is a wide spread infection to animals with regards to communicable diseases. In addition, limited land for raising cattle has led to land degradation through wastage of natural resources like vegetation cover, water catchment areas, and free flow of clean air. Land deterioration has not only affected the farmers and their levels of produce, but also the viability of animal agriculture as a whole.

  1. What eco-friendly solutions are available to make the cattle industry less harmful to society and the environment?

For the cattle industry to be less harmful to the society, a number of eco-friendly measures require being effected. One major eco-friendly measure to acquiring this need is putting beef cattle on grass/hay diet in place of grain diet. This, not only helps rebuild the collapsing world hunger efforts, it boots the sustainability of the industry.



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