Five Ways Cattle Can Save the Planet
Happy Earth Day, Friends!
Cattle have been continuously getting a bad reputation when it comes to environmental sustainability and climate change. We have all read the articles, seen the headlines, and heard celebs boast about promoting a pro-vegan agenda to save our planet.
Truth is, ranchers across our country are constantly making changes and improvements to maintain and revive our open lands and livestock. Ranchers put their land and animals as their top priority, always.
Here are five ways that cattle and other livestock can actually help our planet thrive. Yes! THRIVE!
1.) Cows promote soil health.
Yes, you read that right. Cows help the actual dirt that we all set foot on. How?? Cattle have been blamed too many times to count that they are responsible for our ongoing climate change issues. Wrong: People are responsible.
If anything, we can utilize cattle to help sequester carbon and help natural ecosystems within our local back country areas. The trick is, rotational grazing, proper pasture management and implementing useful tactics. Ranchers are always learning and trying new ideas to help us all.
This isn't a news flash. Back before people immigrated to the United States, bison did rotational grazing naturally. Bison moved in giant herds through out the Great Plains to graze and promote a balanced ecosystem. These creatures did what they did best, eat, defecate, stomp it back into the ground and move onto the next spot. Simple system that is achievable to bring back to fruition.
Again, properly managed cattle on pasture. Proper is the key word here. Not only is it going to aid in sequestering carbon for our planet, but it will also promote optimal soil health and viability.
When the grass is getting groomed down to a certain height, it is time to move the herd to a new pasture to let the previous on rest. This helps they forage to grow back strong, covers the soil from overheating in the sun, keeps all the microbs/organisms thriving beneath our feet and keeps the soil overall happy.
2.) Wildfire Preparation
As stated above, utilizing proper pasture management is so beneficial. One major benefit is to help mitigate wildfire danger. California has a history of major drought and dry climate. Which, is a recipe for wildfire storms.
Bryce's childhood home burned down in the Cedar Fire of 2003, as did many other families and friends locally. 273,246 acres burned in October and November of 2003 in North East San Diego County.
Recently, Central California was literally on fire. The Creek Fire of 2020 burned 379,895 acres which is the 4th largest California wildfire in the state's recent history. Most of this fire burned in the Sierra National Forest.
Cattle on pasture or in forrest land can help keep grass to a manageable length and they also provide moisture with manure.
3.) Sequester Carbon
Greenhouse Gas Emissions is a hot topic. According to an Oklahoma State article, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has indicated that direct emissions from the American beef industry are only 1.9% of the total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Humans bring in 56% GHG with transportation, electricity use and more. (See link to article-->) http://www.dasnr.okstate.edu/Members/donald-stotts-40okstate.edu/carbon-sequestration-a-positive-aspect-of-beef-cattle-grazing-grasslands
Cows aren't the problem. We are.
Now, how in the world do cattle help sequester carbon? What is carbon sequestration? How does this all work?
The long-term capture and storage of carbon from the atmosphere is what we know as carbon sequestration. This is a beneficial way to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, naturally. Cattle properly grazing, rotating on pasture and utilizing feeding practices can help capture carbon and reduce the environmental footprint. Kinda like how the bison used to do this for us hundreds of years ago.
4.) Ecosystem Diversity
When your soil is happy, everything else seems to flourish too. Keeping pasture maintained will develop a unique ecosystem for that environment. Imagine loose, dark and moist soil. That attracts insects, which bring in birds, which bring in foxes and so on. As well, healthy soil grows healthy native grasses. Which will bring the deer, rabbits, squirrels.. The list continues to what makes sense in that specific area.
When cattle help maintain that environment, we have a thriving ecosystem that works symbiotically.
If you haven't already, I encourage you to watch the documentary "Biggest Little Farm." This inspiring film shows the story of how a cute couple from LA area turned a literally dead farm into paradise. Must see!
5.) Utilize Infertile Land
Our country has a variety of landscapes. There are places people prefer to build homes, build cities, plant farmland and more. However, there are places that are unable to be utilized. Like rocky, steep and tough terrain. However, cattle can be used in these rougher areas to graze on.
This is so amazing for a couple of reasons.
1- Cattle become conditioned to their environment. With enough forage and water, cattle can thrive on a wide range of areas that are otherwise not useful.
2- Tough terrain cannot sustain certain growth for a farm. We are able to produce a high dense protein source in these conditions when other sources of food cannot grow. Utilizing the land to it's fullest potential.
So, there you have it. These are just five ways cattle and other livestock can literally help us all! I think it is important for us to look at the bigger picture and instead of pointing fingers at the bovines, let's take a step back and make some changes ourselves.
Happy Earth Day! Enjoy and be nice to this beautiful planet we live on!