Oppliger Companies - Cattle Feeding
 
Home > Operations > Cattle Feeding > Environment

We are committed to sustainable cattle feeding. Our modern feeding system reflects that commitment, as our system has the smallest carbon footprint of any cattle-feeding method. Using our system, our cattle reach their desired weight faster than cattle finished using other methods, including finishing cattle on pasture. This simple fact has widespread environmental benefits.

Less Methane. Because our cattle gain weight more efficiently than pasture cattle, our cattle produce less methane than cattle finished on pasture over the course of their lives.1 The high efficiency of our grain-based rations also causes less enteric fermentation in cattle stomachs than pasture forage, resulting in fewer methane emissions.2 Indeed, one 2008 study demonstrated that cattle finished on pasture had a 30% larger carbon footprint than cattle finished in feedlots.3

Cattle in Paxton, NE

Less Nitrous Oxide. The same holds true for nitrous oxide. Because pasture-finished cattle take longer to reach their target weight, they produce more nitrous oxide emissions.2 And as a further measure to reduce emissions, we distribute manure back onto on our farmland using manure spreaders, which spread manure evenly, thereby reducing fertilizer use and preventing over-fertilization.

Less Water. The increased productivity of feedlot-finished cattle also reduces stress on water supplies. Compared to feedlot-finished cattle, pasture-finished cattle can use up to 302% more water.5 In addition, at all of our feedlots, we reclaim all of the water and use it to irrigate our farming operation, which safely reduces fertilizer and water use.6

Less Land. Just as advances in agriculture have increased crop yields, advances in feed efficiency allow for a smaller cattle population to produce more meat. The end result: less land is needed to finish cattle than ever before.7

Less Manure. By reaching their desired weight faster, cattle finished in feedlots produce less manure than pasture-finished cattle.8

Fact—Not Fiction. Numerous studies confirm the sustainability of finishing cattle in feedlots. One recent study found that when compared to pasture-finished cattle, feedlot-finished cattle require 28.4% less water, 55.3% less land, and 71.4% less fossil fuel energy.8 And when comparing today's cattle feeding methods to cattle feeding in 1977, one study discovered that each pound of beef produced using today's methods used:

At bottom, our modern feeding system is the most environmentally sustainable system. We simply produce more meat with less cattle—and do so more efficiently—than finishing cattle on pasture. And with new advancements in farm and cattle-feeding technology, the benefits of finishing cattle in feedlots will only improve.

1 Doug Gurian-Sherman. 2011. Raising the Steaks: Global Warming and Pasture-raised Beef Production in the United States. www.ucsusa.org/publications
2 Id.
3 Id.
4 J. L. Capper. 2010. Comparing the Environmental Impact of the US Beef Industry in 1977 to 2007. Journal of Animal Science 88 (E-supplement 2): 826.
5 J. L. Capper. 2012. Is the Grass Always Greener? Comparing the Environmental Impact of Conventional, Natural and Grass-Fed Beef Production Systems. doi:10.3390/ani2020127.
6 Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency. Monterey Wastewater Reclamation Study for Agriculture, Final Report; York, David; R. Holden, B. Sheikh, L. Parsons. 2008. Safety and Suitability of Recycled Water for Irrigation of Edible Crops; Washington, DC: National Academy Press. 1996. Use of Reclaimed Water and Sludge in Food Crop Production.
7J. L. Capper. 2012. Is the Grass Always Greener? Comparing the Environmental Impact of Conventional, Natural and Grass-Fed Beef Production Systems. doi:10.3390/ani2020127.
8 Pelletier N., R Pirog, & R. Rasmussen. 2010. Comparative Life Cycle Environmental Impacts of Three Beef Production Strategies in the Upper Midwestern United States. Agricultural Systems doi:10.1016/j.agsy.2010.03.009.
9 Id.