What Is The Right Food to Feed Cattle?

There is a powerful link between our the health of our environment and the way that we eat. The mainstream American meat industry is neither a pal of the environment, nor a pal of American health: the way in which factory farm cattle are elevated, fed, managed, and slaughtered is bad for the environment, bad for the cattle, and bad for the individuals who eat beef. When we choose to buy grass fed cattle instead, we are making a much better choice for our planet and for our physical structures. Here's why.

What's a Feed Lot?

Most of other beef found in grocery stores may be traced back to a feed lot. In feed lots, cattle are crammed together in dirty pens and fed an assortment of grains in place of their traditional conventional diet of wild grass. Feed lots evolved in the 1950s as junk food started to boom, and U.S citizens demanded more bloody meat, faster. Traditional conventional ways of raising cattle meant beef cattle were three to five years old when they were slaughtered; the meat industry wanted to find a means to bring cattle up to size (literally) within eighteen months. But cattle growing by themselves simply don't add pounds that quickly; in order to get this kind of rapid growth, they must be gulped up starchy grains like corn and soy. With constant feeding of these starchy vegetables, the cattle fatten up quicker, and may be slaughtered, processed, and packaged quicker.

Feed Lots and Deforestation

What does the Amazon Rainforest and a feed lot in Kansas have in common? The soy beans. In the Amazon, rainforest is disappearing every day, and as these forests disappear, soy bean farms appear in their wake. The requirement for beef has led to an increase in feed lots, and an increase in feed lots means an increase in feed. All that grain feed has to originate from somewhere, and farmers on the edge of the shrinking Amazon Rainforest know where to see that grain. It is the American appetite for beef that is at least partially to blame for deforestation in the Amazon.

In the United States, as much as 80% of the corn crop and 90% of the soy bean crop is fed to animals. If we used that same amount of corn and soy to feed humans, we could make a difficult dent in solving the issue of global hunger. Instead, it takes about fourteen pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef.

Feed Lots and Green House Gases

The deforestation occurring to make feed for beef is bad, but the manufacture of methane gas from agribusiness may well be even worse. Although it doesn't get the attention that co2 gets, methane gas is a powerful greenhouse gas - some scientists estimate it to be twenty times more powerful than co2 relating to trapping heat in our atmosphere (and thereby responsible for global warming). Where does methane gas originate from? It is estimated that 15% - 20% derives from agribusiness. This means that, methane gas is being released from the bowels of all these cattle and into our atmosphere.

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