Alberta Beef Life Cycle Analysis - Phase 1

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 What is the purpose of the study? | Why is the study important? | What was done? | What are the key findings?
What is the Purpose of the Study?
The major objective of the study was to provide a first approximation of the carbon footprint intensity and other environmental impacts (including water and nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus) of beef cattle production in Alberta. The report was funded by Growing Forward, A Federal-Provincial-Territorial Initiative and completed by Conestoga-Rovers & Associates and the Pembina Institute.

Why is the Study Important?
Consumer interest in environmental or "green" products has increased dramatically in recent years. The greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced from agricultural practices are becoming a competitiveness factor for primary producers, processors, retailers and international markets. In addition, opportunities to reduce greenhouse gases and the movement of some European jurisdictions toward carbon content labeling of food products, has allowed for the creation of markets for new environmental goods and services.

What Was Done?
The study describes the beef production system in Alberta from "cradle-to-gate", starting with production of energy, crop inputs, and cattle feed, and ending with the delivery of live shrunk animals to the door of the slaughterhouse.

Four environmental impact categories: global warming potential, acidification, eutrophication and non renewable energy resources associated with the beef production system were quantified.

What are the Key Findings?
Findings from the Phase 1 report contain an estimate of the carbon footprint intensity and other environmental impacts per kilogram (kg) of live cattle at the door of the slaughterhouse. In addition, the report contains data / knowledge gaps, the significance of these in the context of Alberta conditions, as well as recommendations about how to address these gaps.

Opportunities identified for reducing the carbon footprint of beef production include use of high quality forages, use of good grazing management, use of legumes in grazing rotations, use of ionophores to improve feed efficiency, reducing age to slaughter, addition of edible oils to grain diets, selecting breeding bulls that are naturally feed-efficient, and feed processing.

Link to full report in pdf format

Other Documents in the Series

  Alberta Beef Life Cycle Analysis
Alberta Beef Life Cycle Analysis - Phase 1 - Current Document
Alberta Beef Life Cycle Analysis - Phase 2
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This document is maintained by Shukun Guan.
This information published to the web on August 4, 2010.
Last Reviewed/Revised on September 18, 2017.