What's the “Beef” with Methane Emission and Cattle Production? (B 1453)Download PDF
In recent years, global climate change has been one of the most frequently discussed scientific ideas in the popular press. Terms like “global warming” and “greenhouse gas” have been politicized with little discussion of what they really mean, shedding more heat than light on scientific discussions of changing climate. Concerns about the relative contributions of greenhouse gases from different industries have caused much finger pointing without making it clear how the gases are produced and what options are available for management of the gas emissions. In particular, agriculture has been identified as one of the major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, and this has caused consumers to question the production practices used in modern agricultural systems. Specific focus has been placed on cattle production because these animals digest feed by a process called “enteric fermentation,” which produces methane as a by-product. The purpose of this bulletin is to explain the basic debate surrounding methane production from livestock, in particular how it is produced in the rumen.
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