Recently livestock have received the stigma that raising and consuming them is bad for the environment. But what this assumption does is paint all meat consumption with too broad a brush. It fails to take into account how the animal was raised. The differences between grass fed in a regenerative, multi species system and in a grain fed CAFO.
Recently a study was conducted at White Oak Pastures in Bluffton Georgia. White Oak Pastures is a 3,000 acre family farm, which 20 years ago owner Will Harris transitioned from annual monocultures to the lush diversity of multi species livestock and forages. Today they raise nearly a dozen different species of livestock, on farm processing, shop, glamping and more.
The methods employed at White Oak Pastures are so effective at sequestering carbon that the farm is able to offset 85% of their total emissions.
Beef, raised in a regenerative model at White Oak Pastures generaties -3.5 kg CO2 per kg fresh meat. In contrast, conventionally raised beef from the United States was 35 kg CO2 per kg fresh meat. Beef from the global market fared slightly better at 27 kg CO2 per kg fresh meat.
By integrating multiple livestock species, White Oak Pastures is able to be six times more carbon efficient than the average North American production model.
White Oak Pastures Conventional
Total Carcass Weight Output: 706,000 706,000
Total Emissions: 1.9 Million kg CO2-eq 11.5 Million kg CO2-eq
Average Emissions per Carcass Wt.: 3 kg CO2/ kg CW 16 kg CO2/kg CW
What all this boils down to is beef raised at White Oak Pastures has a carbon footprint 111% lower than beef raised in a conventional system. It also means that White Oak Pastures beef is having a POSITIVE effect on the climate.
While the data presented above is for a specific farm, in a specific local and climate, I think it is a safe assumption that beef used using a regenerative system with other species of livestock integrated is far better for the climate.
The research fails to take into consideration other benefits from a regenerative farming system, including:
However, other studies in the past have indicated that grass fed and regenerative models address these problems.
Here at Willow Farm we employ a similar model of plant and livestock diversity. While we do not have quite the range, (only three species of livestock) we are continually seeking to improve our efficiency and reduce our environmental impact. We sincerely hope you join us on our mission to grow good food that is good for you while simultaneously working to heal the Earth.
Read the whole study HERE
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Welcome to Willow Farm's blog! I'm Kyle, farm manager and all things marketing