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Cradle-to-Gate Life Cycle Assessment of Locally Produced Beef in the Palouse Region of the Northwestern U.S.

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

Citation:  Transactions of the ASABE. 56(5): 1933-1941. (doi: 10.13031/trans.56.10122) @2013
Authors:   Daniel J. Roop, Dev S. Shrestha, Darin A Saul
Keywords:   Beef, GHG, Ranches, Small farms.

Before 1940, on-farm beef slaughter made up 3% to 5% of annual beef production. Currently, this statistic is below 0.5%. As part of a larger project to develop 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 U.S. Net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were calculated for each of the operations, which each produced 20 to 35 head of cattle annually. Data from the small ranches were 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. Feed and transportation emissions were estimated using HOLOS whole-farm modeling software and Franklin Associates’ U.S. LCI data, respectively. All emissions were normalized over the mass of live weight cattle output from each ranch. The ranches had average total emissions of 13.78 ±2.08 kg CO2e kg-1 live weight output. Feed production emissions and fuel use emissions varied more significantly according to ranch practices (having ranges of ±66% and ±4%, respectively) and were considered on a case-by-case basis. Feed production emissions were between 0.42 and 3.98 kg CO2e kg-1 live weight output. Fuel use emissions were between 0.39 and 1.58 kg CO2e kg-1 live weight output. Overall emissions were consistent with values for all-sized cattle operations in the literature and slightly less than emissions from production systems utilizing concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

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