A More Sustainable Future for Beef

New innovations in the beef industry claim to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 90% in some cases. There has been a longstanding push to improve sustainability in beef production. It accounts for 41% of all livestock emissions. Ranchers and feedlot operators can now play an important role in combating the global climate concerns. 

Methane is the second most abundant GHG and more than 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. A significant amount of methane comes from ruminant animals, like cattle, sheep, and buffalo. They all have a fore-stomach that contains microbes called methanogens. Methanogens produce methane during the digestion process and are released into the atmosphere when the animal belches. 

Food processing company, JBS, has partnered with multinational health and bioscience company, Royal DSM, to reduce cattle methane emissions. Royal DSM developed “Bovaer,” a feed supplement for cattle that lowers the methane released. 

Bovaer is the culmination of 10 years of research and development and led to more than 48-peer reviewed studies. In 2021, it received market approval and will be rolled out and tested by JBS across their network of feedlots. 

Bovaer claims to reduce up to 90% of enteric methane emissions⁠ — the single largest source of direct GHG emissions from beef cattle. All it takes is a quarter teaspoon of the additive per day, per animal. Inside of the animal’s stomach, it inhibits the enzyme that activates the production of methane gas. Bovaer’s effects are immediate and with continued use can play a huge role in the sustainability of beef production. 

Livestock manure is another significant contributor of GHG. Piles of manure that accumulate from large livestock operations, like feedlots, cause an anaerobic breakdown, which releases methane and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. 

To deal with the manure problem, a feedlot operator by the name of Korova Feeders is developing a new Bio-Digester technology that uses the excess manure as material to produce biomethane. By avoiding organic waste decomposition and producing a form of renewable natural gas, Korova Feeders anticipates a GHG emission reduction of approximately 25,000 tCO2e for 34,000 cattle. 

Our HerdWhistle RIFD monitoring technology also has potential to improve sustainability in the feedlot sector. Cattle feed efficiency can have a big impact on GHG emissions. More efficient cattle grow at the same rate as their peers, but require less feed. These more efficient cattle emit less methane than the rest. HerdWhistle helps feedlot operators to pinpoint the most efficient animals in their herd so they can build a more efficient herd in the future. HerdWhistle also aids with health and mortality, assisting feedlot operators to treat their animals more rapidly so they can get back to normal health and achieve more efficient growth. 

With a flood of new innovations for beef producers, the future of beef production is sustainability.

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