Grass the greenest way to feed cattle, finds study

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Feeding cattle on grass is the most environmentally sustainable way to rear beef, the National Trust has claimed following research on its farms.

Research at 10 of the Trust’s farms showed the carbon footprint of grass-fed and conventional farms were comparable. However, net carbon emissions were reduced by as much as 94% as a result of carbon sequestration on farms with well-managed grass pasture, it concluded.

The results were contrary to recent thinking that livestock farming methods must intensify further in order to lessen carbon emissions to feed an ever increasing world population, said Rob Macklin, national agriculture and food advisor at the National Trust.

“Grazing livestock not only contributes to their maintenance but also turns grass into a human-edible food,” he said.

The trust’s research was carried out by sustainability consultants Best Foot Forward and farm business consultants the Laurence Gould Partnership.

Recent research showed the health benefits of beef and lamb were greater when animals were fed exclusively on grass, the trust added.


For more on the opportunities for marketing grass-fed beef in the UK, see The Grocer’s Meat & Fish Supplement 2012.

Readers' comments (1)

  • I am very interested in the promotion of Grassfed beef as Ireland is a great place for grass
    I am interested in finding info on small suplimintation when grass gets scarce

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