Web Research Cattle Industry essay

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1.      How much grain is needed to feed one feedlot steer for one year (or for the life of the steer)? How many people could that amount of grain feed?

There are three circumstances that a farmer can opt to feed grain to cattle, they include: a draught ration; the form of lot feeding; and a supplementary food to grazing [2]. In all these scenarios, care should be taken into consideration, particularly with regard to the introduction and conditioning of the cattle for grain feeding. Cornell University asserts that the quantity of grain fed for each cattle depends on the three scenarios aforementioned [2]. Cattle can be fed only with grain during drought periods, which in this case, they are fed with about 1 percent of their live weight. For instance, 300 kg cattle could be fed with 3 kg of grain on a daily basis. The amounts of supplementary feeding of grain can vary from 0.5 to 1.5 percent of their live weight on a daily basis. Beyond this amount of grain intake, confining the cattle and making grain a major constituent of the feedlot rations can make the cattle perform better. Lot feeding results in cattle consuming grain that equals to 2 percent of their live weight on a daily basis, with the maximum grain feed intake per day being 2.5 percent of their live weight [6].

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

Reducing animal agriculture has been suggested as an alternative solution to reduce world hunger; however, it has resulted in mixed reactions with divisive arguments towards the subject [1]. Some of the arguments in favor of reducing animal agriculture with regard to reducing world hunger include: (a) animal agriculture is not environmental friendly because the of the waste that results in greenhouse emissions and water pollution that leads to an increase in “dead zones”, which hinder food supply; (b) about 50 percent of water utilized in the United States is consumed in animal agriculture through watering crops to be fed to animals, in the form of drinking water, cleaning the factory farms, used in transport trucks, and slaughterhouses among others; (c) animal agriculture is one of the main contributors of human diseases such as mad cow and H1N1 among others [5].  Some of the arguments against the reduction of animal agriculture include: (a) there is high demand for animal products, which are often sold at a cost efficient ratio; (b) animal farming eases the food supply chain since it is relatively easier for people to buy animal products than embark on a hunting mission for the same food.

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

Cattle are often raised on either pasture land or range for a greater part of their lives, which is mostly 12 to18 months, after which they are moved to a feedlot for finishing. Cattle often spend approximately 3-6 months in a feedlot, a time which they are expected to gain about 2.5-4 pounds on a daily basis [1]. Cattle are fed on a scientifically computed ration of about 70-90 percent grain [4]. Therefore, on a special diet, cattle are likely to add one pound for every six pounds of grain intake. In the feedlot, cattle are placed in pens housing about 100-125 animals with a space of about 125-250 square feet for each animal. In this regard, each animal requires about one foot space while at the feed bunk when feeding. When it comes to the amount of water required to produce one pound of meat, the generally accepted figure is about 2500 gallons; however, studies gave differed, in terms of this figure, citing water evaporations and water returned in the process. With regard to the oil required for the same, it is apparent that it varied depending on a number of factors such as the mode of raising the cattle, and the distance that the beef is transported among others. Nevertheless, a harmonizing figure has been established by the Cornell University, which is 284 gallons of oil for a feedlot steer and 13.83 gallons of oil for a free range steer [3].

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

The Bureau of Land Management approximates that about 256 million acres of public land is under its management, and permits about 160 million acres of public land for livestock grazing.

5.      Why have grazing practices of the 20th century (and in many places, still in effect) been unsustainable? Besides wasteful resource use, what other consequences did you discover? Report effects on climate disruption, pollution, human disease, and biodiversity loss.

It is undeniable that the grazing practices of the 20th century have been largely unsustainable and have resulted in substantial environmental degradation and contributed to the current climate change crisis. The most prevalent outcome being wasteful resource use typified by lack of recycling resources, which poses a significant threat to the sustainability of grazing resources in the future. Secondly, Robbins (4) asserts that there is a relationship between cattle grazing and climate change, and reports that the combined impacts of climate change and cattle grazing can be detrimental to water and soil. Grazing can increase the amount of erosion and compact soils, and that these impacts can be augmented by the increases in temperature and rainfall changes [7].

6.      Not everyone will want to stop or reduce their beef consumption. What eco-friendly solutions are available to make the cattle industry less harmful to society and the environment?

With the climate change issue affecting all industries across the board, it is imperative for the cattle industry to adopt eco-friendly methods in order to ensure that the growing demand for beef consumption does not mar efforts aimed at countering global climate change. There are a number of eco-friendly solutions that the cattle industry can adopt in order to ensure that it is less harmful to the society; these include holistic herding, using nature effectively, and speeding regeneration. In addition, grazing has facilitated the spread of communicable diseases between livestock and wild animals [4]. Holistic herding will play an instrumental role in cutting carbon emissions through returning the carbon dioxide back to the soil. Correct grazing can help return carbon dioxide back to the soil. In addition, holistic herding utilizes the nature’s carbon cycle effectively in the sense that soils require carbon to facilitate the generation of rich nutrients that are vital for plant life [2].

7.      Of the many destructive activities we could have researched (i.e., the textile industry, oil and gas industries, nuclear power, auto manufacturing and use, mining, poaching, etc.), why do you think I chose this one?

This choice was made because the beef industry is central to the global supply chain, especially with the increase in demand for beef consumption. In addition, the beef industry has not caught people’s attention with regard to the effect that the beef industry has on global climate change in the sense that it is not always the focus of policies aimed at mitigating climate change.

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