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Farming For a Better Climate Newsletter - Winter 2020-21 (No.21)

Beef: Practical ideas to reduce emissions

With the challenge of making beef production more efficient and reducing greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of meat produced, the beef and sheep sector are actively looking at what steps are needed to improve livestock performance.

The recent Scottish Government Update to the Climate Change Plan acknowledges that Scotland has a climate ideally suited to livestock farming and a sustainable future as one of the places in the world most suited to producing high quality meat.  If Scotland were to cease producing meat, then production would simply take place elsewhere, effectively resulting in no change, and some would argue an increase to global emissions. How do we drive more efficiencies into beef production, reducing the impact of emissions for each kilogram of meat produced?

There's no ‘one size fits all’, but a range of ideas that you can pick from and adapt to suit to your own farm and circumstances. The aim is to improve both farm profitability and environmental performance, and in turn reduce the carbon footprint per kilogram of meat produced.

We’ve produced a number of practical guides with tips and ideas from other farmers which you could adapt or develop for your farm -  take a look at our livestock pages Optimising Livestock Performance - Farming for a Better Climate

Improving efficiencies - general principles include:
Improving and protecting soil health - healthy farm soils could increase the grazing season and improve stock carrying capacity.
Nutrient management - optimum nutrient and pH management could save on the fertiliser bill; appropriate and timely application could further reduce the risk of greenhouse gas losses.
Grassland management - improved grazing and pasture management could help you get increased growth from grass.
Breeding and fertility management - getting cows in calf
Calf management - weaning percentage and liveweight gain
Feeding and rations - cost effective and faster finishing
Health and disease management - making sure the whole herd is healthy and performing as well as possible.

 

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