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New study shows that while grass-fed cattle are gassier, they’re greener as well.
Feeding studies of cattle that compared the methane produced by the consumption and digestion of grass vs. grain have found that eating grass is associated with far greater methane production than eating grain is.
The results have been used by CAFO supporters to say CAFO meat production is better for the environment (as methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas) than grazing is.
Such studies fail to take into account the complete impact of producing grain or grass for cattle to eat.
A study released in the spring of 2012 by the the National Trust (U.K.) sets that oversight to rest and concludes that the carbon sequestration provided by well-managed pasture offsets digestive carbon emissions by up to 94%.
The study compared 10 farms in different locations that followed conventional methods or 100% grass-fed organic.
The digestive gas measures were in line with previous studies, but after adding in the impact of grain production and transportation and the levels of carbon sequestration by pasture vs cultivated fields, and the final impact of grass-fed beef is much lower than that of grain-fed beef.
Grass fed beef also has a far more healthful nutritional profile.