Are Mini "Teacup Cattle" the Answer to Sustainable Meat?

Image credit: The Guardian

The connection between beef and climate change is already well documented. And while some may tout grass-fed cattle as a partial solution to cattle-related greenhouse gas emissions, there's no doubt that the laws of entropy, combined with the inevitable methane emissions from ruminants, make truly sustainable meat rearing a tricky issue indeed. But here's a somewhat surreal idea I'd never thought about before—if cows are such a big problem, why don't we just make them smaller? The idea is not as weird as it sounds. Christine has already explored the concept of Bonzai cattle as a spin-off benefit of shrinking people. And she's not alone. According to the Guardian, many US farmers are ditching large cattle in favor of smaller, more sustainable breeds. In many ways it's a reversal of a trend that's been going on for decades, with farmers breeding ever larger, hungrier cows. But, says the Guardian, smaller cows, and we do mean smaller— some, known as "teacup cattle" are only 36 inches tall—are becoming increasingly popular. Not only do they need less land to range on, but they produce more meat with less feed too:

"Since the 1940s, US farmers have been breeding cows for size, making them much larger than their British cousins. But with Gradwohl's farm being swallowed up by rising taxes, he had to give up 60 acres of land. He discovered that it is possible to raise 10 miniature cows on five acres, rather than just two full-sized cows, meaning that land could yield up to three times as much beef - but the cows only need one third of the feed."

I guess bigger is not always better.

Tags: Animals | Carbon Emissions | Farming | Local Food | United States

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