Animals 2012, 2(2), 195-220; doi:10.3390/ani2020195
Article

Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Calf- and Yearling-Fed Beef Production Systems, With and Without the Use of Growth Promotants

1 Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, Lacombe Research Centre, 6000 C & E Trail, Lacombe, AB T4L 1W1, Canada 2 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lacombe Research Centre, 6000 C & E Trail, Lacombe, AB T4L 1W1, Canada 3 The Prasino Group, 12207-42 A Avenue, Edmonton, AB T6J 0X5, Canada 4 Department Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P5, Canada
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 1 February 2012; in revised form: 22 March 2012 / Accepted: 31 March 2012 / Published: 16 April 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Livestock Management)
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Simple Summary: A spring calving herd (~350 beef cows) over two production cycles was used to compare the whole-farm greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions among calf-fed vs. yearling-fed production systems, with and without growth implants. Farm GHG emissions initially included enteric CH4, manure CH4 and N2O, cropping N2O, and energy use CO2. The carbon footprint ranged from 19.9–22.5 kg CO2e per kg carcass weight. Including soil organic carbon loss from annual cropping and carbon sequestration from perennial pastures and haylands further reduced the carbon footprint by 11–16%. The carbon footprint of beef was reduced by growth promotants (4.9–5.1%) and by calf-fed beef production (6.3–7.5%).
Abstract: A spring calving herd consisting of about 350 beef cows, 14–16 breeding bulls, 60 replacement heifers and 112 steers were used to compare the whole-farm GHG emissions among calf-fed vs. yearling-fed production systems with and without growth implants. Carbon footprint ranged from 11.63 to 13.22 kg CO2e per kg live weight (19.87–22.52 kg CO2e per kg carcass weight). Enteric CH4 was the largest source of GHG emissions (53–54%), followed by manure N2O (20–22%), cropping N2O (11%), energy use CO2 (9–9.5%), and manure CH4 (4–6%). Beef cow accounted for 77% and 58% of the GHG emissions in the calf-fed and yearling-fed. Feeders accounted for the second highest GHG emissions (15% calf-fed; 35–36% yearling-fed). Implants reduced the carbon footprint by 4.9–5.1% compared with hormone-free. Calf-fed reduced the carbon footprint by 6.3–7.5% compared with yearling-fed. When expressed as kg CO2e per kg carcass weight per year the carbon footprint of calf-fed production was 73.9–76.1% lower than yearling-fed production, and calf-fed implanted was 85% lower than hormone-free yearling-fed. Reducing GHG emissions from beef production may be accomplished by improving the feed efficiency of the cow herd, decreasing the days on low quality feeds, and reducing the age at harvest of youthful cattle.
Keywords: beef; life cycle assessment; carbon footprint; hormone implant; production efficiency

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MDPI and ACS Style

Basarab, J.; Baron, V.; López-Campos, Ó.; Aalhus, J.; Haugen-Kozyra, K.; Okine, E. Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Calf- and Yearling-Fed Beef Production Systems, With and Without the Use of Growth Promotants. Animals 2012, 2, 195-220.

AMA Style

Basarab J, Baron V, López-Campos Ó, Aalhus J, Haugen-Kozyra K, Okine E. Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Calf- and Yearling-Fed Beef Production Systems, With and Without the Use of Growth Promotants. Animals. 2012; 2(2):195-220.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Basarab, John; Baron, Vern; López-Campos, Óscar; Aalhus, Jennifer; Haugen-Kozyra, Karen; Okine, Erasmus. 2012. "Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Calf- and Yearling-Fed Beef Production Systems, With and Without the Use of Growth Promotants." Animals 2, no. 2: 195-220.

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