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HannahWhittenly posted a blog entry in HannahWhittenly's BlogFactory farming is responsible for 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This is due to the resource intensive feeding, slaughtering, processing, and transporting involved in the process. This has led many to reach for an alternative to conventional meat, and it may seem surprising that many are choosing to raise their own livestock at home, however if you look at the specifics of the process you may find that it’s not such an outlandish option. Why it is a Green Alternative By keeping the process as small and local as it gets, you can enjoy high quality, ethical meat while negating many of the sources of emissions associated with factory farmed meat. The transportation of both the livestock’s food and the meat itself are cut out of the process, as are the emissions produced by the large farm equipment that industrial producers rely on. Furthermore you can monitor what, if any, antibiotics and hormones are used, making healthier meat that uses less resources. What You Need Obviously this is not the right option if you live in a small apartment. You need at least 1.5 acres per cow for adequate grazing, or the ability to supplement with oats or hay. While you can get by without any expensive farm equipment it may be helpful to have a riding mower for keeping your pasture manageable and a trailer for transporting your livestock. Of course you will also need a sturdy fence and padlock to keep your livestock safe and a large freezer for keeping the resulting meat. It can be ideal though if you have a lot of acres to maintain, and don’t want to spend money on landscaping or a lot of yard upkeep. The Cost There are numerous costs associated with raising livestock, not all of which are upfront. You will need to pay for the livestock itself, any farm equipment you find necessary, supplemental food, veterinarian costs, slaughter, and processing the meat. You can always save money at places like Central Farm and Garden on pasture alfalfa and grass as well. Overall it is difficult to give an estimate for the total cost of raising a cow from birth to slaughter as it varies widely, but most agree that the cost would exceed the market value of the meat due to economies of scale. However, the increased quality of the meat and the peace of mind from knowing that the animal was raised humanely, and sustainably is a huge non-monetary reward for raising livestock at home. Alternatives If you don’t have the space or ability to raise your own livestock, there are other options. You can invest in a share of an animal raised on another person’s property, and receive a portion of the meat. You can also buy your meat from small livestock farmers directly at farmers markets or their farm. Most are happy to answer any questions you may have on their practices. If you have room and time, chickens might be a more sustainable option as well since they provide not only meat, but eggs. If you decide raise your own meat you’re in for a rewarding and eco-friendly experience, but it is important to conduct a lot of research before you begin, both for your own sanity and for the health of the animal. However, all this effort is worth it to enjoy high quality meat with fewer environmental costs.
Simon Leufstedt posted a article in Global WarmingAuthors of a recent climate change analysis, published in the monthly scientific journal Nature Climate Change, says that while the world struggles to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, we have given too little attention to other harmful greenhouse gases – more specifically, greenhouse gases associated with livestock. “Because the Earth’s climate may be near a tipping point to major climate change, multiple approaches are needed for mitigation,” said William Ripple, a professor in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University and co-author of the analysis. “We clearly need to reduce the burning of fossil fuels to cut CO2 emissions. But that addresses only part of the problem. We also need to reduce non-CO2 greenhouse gases to lessen the likelihood of us crossing this climatic threshold.” While acknowledging the dangers of CO2, the authors say that much more should be done to reduce releases of methane and nitrous oxide, two non-CO2 greenhouse gases that trap more heat than CO2 does. Methane is the second most abundant greenhouse gas and recent studies have shown that methane releases could be much higher than previously thought. Methane release comes from a variety of sources, but it’s estimated that ruminants form the largest single human-related source of methane. The authors write that the most effective way to combat climate change is therefore to reduce the world’s populations of ruminant livestock, which are mostly associated with cattle and the production of beef. Research has shown that greenhouse gas emissions from cattle and sheep productions are 19 to 48 times higher (per food produced) than the equivalent production of non-meat foods such as beans, grains, or soy products. So although CO2 is the most abundant greenhouse gas, the world could see a much faster reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the near-term through a substantial reduction in the number of ruminants globally. Individuals can do this by adopting a more vegetarian diet which cuts down on meat and dairy products. “Reducing demand for ruminant products could help to achieve substantial greenhouse gas reductions in the near-term,” said co-author Helmut Haberl of the Institute of Social Ecology in Austria, “but implementation of demand changes represent a considerable political challenge.”