CALGARY, June 1 /CNW/ - Cattle producers depend on a healthy environment.
Protecting it is critical to the long-term sustainability of rural communities
and a secure food supply. Celebrating Canada's remarkable environment by
caring stewardship is a role that ranchers and farmers take seriously. And as
such, they are taking action to decrease their contribution to the emissions
of greenhouse gases (GHGs).
Cows do emit methane, a GHG. But for the most part they breathe it out.
Not much is expelled in burps, and not very much from the other end either.
What is good news for the environment is that agriculture researchers,
ranchers and farmers are working together to make sure cattle emit less and
less methane. All across Canada, good management practices are being put in
place to produce safe, nutritious food - with the smallest GHG footprint
"Measuring methane emitted by cattle is an energy efficiency action,"
says Dr. Tim McAllister, Research Scientist and Livestock Nutritionist at
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's (AAFC) Lethbridge Research Centre.
McAllister explains, "We measure it and then we look for ways to change the
animal's diet so the food is digested more efficiently and less energy
(methane) is lost."
An important management practice for efficient digestion is making sure
that protein, energy, vitamins and minerals are all in proper balance - just
like a people diet. As the quality of grasses the cattle eat increases, the
amount of methane produced decreases. Adding grain to the diet of cattle
improves the digestion in the stomach.
Jack Kyle, Grazing Specialist at Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food
and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), spends a lot of his time advising cattle farmers
on how to set up the most efficient grazing system. Keeping pasture grasses
healthy and growing ensures that cattle emit the lowest amount of methane
possible. "Healthy grass, healthy cattle - less greenhouse gases," says Kyle.
"Native plants provide a sustainable pasture with high nutritional
quality throughout the growing/grazing season. Utilizing, and potentially
increasing, the portion of species with a better nutritional profile, such as
native legumes, for example purple or white prairie clover, will improve
livestock grazing performances and the environment," says Mike Schellenberg,
Range and Forage Plant Ecologist with AAFC Semiarid Prairie Agriculture
Research Station in Swift Current, Saskatchewan.
"The size of GHG mitigation opportunities from agriculture at the global
level have been quantified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) in their fourth series of reports released last year," says Karen
Haugen-Kozyra, Director of Policy Development and Offsets Solutions, Climate
Change Central. In the IPCC report, emission reductions of up to 4.0 billion
tonnes of GHGs could be contributed by agriculture's collective efforts
globally - that's almost half the excess GHG emissions that remain in the
atmosphere due to manmade activities each year. "That's a significant economic
opportunity for ranchers and farmers and a stewardship opportunity to show the
public that agriculture has a significant role to play," says Haugen-Kozyra.
Reaching for those energy efficiencies in every aspect of the cattle
cycle demonstrates the industry's commitment to environmental stewardship.
The National Voice for Canada's Beef Cattle Industry,
representing 90,000 Cattle Producers
Visit us at www.cattle.ca
For further information:
For further information: Dr. Tim McAllister - AAFC, (403) 317-2240; Dr.
Mike Schellenberg - AAFC, (306) 778-7247; Jack Kyle - OMAFRA, (705) 324-5855;
Karen Haugen-Kozyra - Climate Change Central, (780) 408-4580; Peggy Strankman
- Canadian Cattlemen's Association, Manager Environment, (403) 275-8558