Posted By: Rob - Farm Vet

A word from our Directors

December has arrived with some heavy frosts, and it very much feels like winter is here. I hope people are not having too many problems with frozen water tanks and milking parlours.

I recently attended a meeting on sustainability in dairy, beef, and lamb production. It was interesting to see some of the numbers behind the CO2 arguments in the news.

A return flight to Capetown emits 3.9 tonnes of carbon per person. One kg of UK beef emits an average of 23.4kg CO2. The average UK person eats 18 kg of beef per year so one flight is equivalent to 167kg or 9 years of beef consumption. I would personally like to see some more documentaries on flying and transport than the beef industry.

The same numbers also look quite different depending how you compare them. The carbon footprint of milk is higher when compared to soya/oat drinks per 100ml but is lower than soya/oat drinks when compared to nutrient density.

There are several things that can be done on most farms to improve carbon footprint.

Animal health parameters included;

Reducing losses, with a 2008 research study showing that only 81% of dairy heifers born calve into the dairy herd. Reducing losses will also apply to beef suckler calves and lambs.
Reducing age at first calving (currently 26 months for dairy herds in the UK)
Reducing disease- there was a 5-10% difference in greenhouse gas emissions between the bottom 10% and average performing farm for BVD, mastitis and infertility.

- Rob Powell

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