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GHG Emissions Analysis of Locally Produced Beef in the Palouse Region of the Northwestern US

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2012 Dallas, Texas, July 29 - August 1, 2012  121337137.(doi:10.13031/2013.41746)
Authors:   Daniel J Roop, Dev S Shrestha
Keywords:   Small Farms, Ranches, Cattle, GHG, Emissions

Before 1940 on-farm beef slaughter made up 3-5% of annual beef production. Currently, this statistic is below 0.5%. The most likely cause of this loss of small beef production is the industrialization of commercial beef production into concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). As part of a larger project on developing strategies to increase prosperity for small farms through sustainable livestock production, processing and marketing, this study presents data and analyses from five small cattle production operations in the Palouse region of the Northwestern US. Net GHG emissions and were calculated for each of the small scale producers. The studied ranches each produced 20-35 head of cattle annually. Data from the small ranches was analyzed to determine emissions in three main categories: those associated with cattle, feed production and fuel use. Cattle emissions were calculated according to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories. This method provided estimates for emissions from enteric fermentation and manure management. All emissions were normalized over the mass of live weight cattle output from each ranch. The ranches were found to have average cattle emissions of 0.39 0.04 kg CO2e/kg live weight output. Feed production emissions and fuel use emissions varied more significantly according to ranch practices and should be considered on a case by case basis. Feed production emissions were found to be between 0.42 and 3.98 kg CO2e/kg live weight output. Fuel use emissions were found between 0.39 and 1.58 kg CO2e/kg live weight output.

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