International

STUDY: How to produce quality beef and reduce methane emissions?

A specific case of advances in the generation of scientific knowledge in Argentine for its potential practical application in commercial livestock systems.

Posted on Jan 19 ,08:30

STUDY: How to produce quality beef and reduce methane emissions?

The IPCVA promotes management alternatives that allow improving the efficiency of meat production with lower GHG emissions per unit of product (“emissions intensity”: GHG/kg meat). In this framework, some results of the research project "Reduction of the intensity of methane emissions and its impact on the quality of beef from pastoral-based production systems" are presented.

This research was selected and financed by the IPCVA within the framework of its Public Research Competitions. The project was carried out by researchers belonging to the Animal Nutrition and Metabolism group of INTA Balcarce and teacher-researchers from the Faculties of Veterinary Sciences and Exact Sciences of UNICEN under the coordination of Agricultural Engineers Horacio Gonda and Patricia Ricci.

Cattle naturally generate GHG as part of the digestive process and from their excreta. These emissions are related to the loss of energy consumed by the animal that is not used by the organism. Therefore, all measures that seek to improve production to reduce emissions to the environment will not only reduce the contribution of GHG by livestock, but will also improve the efficiency of the feed conversion rate. in product (meat, milk, fiber). Therefore, managing the quality and quantity of feed consumed by animals is one of the main tools to improve production efficiency and product quality. This allows shortening the time necessary to achieve the growth and fattening objectives set.

The project evaluated the use of supplementation of beef steers at 2 moments of rearing, at the beginning of an early weaning to the pen and during winter grazing of high quality pastures. The objective of the same was to choose the best combination that demonstrates a better productive performance, characteristics of the beef and quality of meat. And in turn, lower GHG emissions per unit of product. This experiment was carried out with 40 Aberdeen Angus calves, 20 of them were weaned at 140 days of age and fed in a pen for 60 days with a diet based on corn grain, soybean expeller and whole plant corn silage. Once this period is over,

In the winter months, a combination of early feeding and winter supplementation treatments under grazing was performed. Half of the animals weaned early and the half that remained at the foot of the mother were supplemented individually for 90 days with ground corn grain at 1% LW, while the remaining half remained grazing without supplementation. After this stage, all the steers continued to graze the same pastures until they reached 300 kg of live weight, to then be fed for 110 days with a diet based on corn grain, where the animals reached an average slaughter weight of 422 kg. kg.

The experiments carried out showed that, although supplementation in the early stage did not have long-term advantages, winter supplementation in grazing did significantly reduce the intensity of methane emissions without altering the final slaughter weight or the quality of both carcass and meat. of the meat produced. For all treatments, high beef yields (57.5%), optimum beef fatness level (9.4 cm) and good tenderness values were observed, which together with the color of the meat and fat is one of the the quality parameters of the meat most sought after by the consumer. In this sense and contributing positively to the quality of the meat,

In turn, the project in question made it possible to evaluate an alternative method for measuring methane under grazing production conditions developed at UNICEN. It was observed that the expired/belched air sampling methodology for 5 continuous days produced methane emission values similar to those measured with the original method. This new methodology presents operational advantages over the original protocol, since the animals are disturbed less frequently to collect their samples. Allowing improvements in their normal behavior in grazing, and less labor required to collect measurements. The importance of the work is that it will facilitate from now on the measurement of emissions in commercial livestock establishments.

This is a specific case of advances in the generation of scientific knowledge in Argentina for its potential practical application in commercial livestock systems. As previously stated, the correct management of the quality and quantity of feed consumed by animals is one of the main tools to improve production efficiency and product quality. Reach the consumer with the product that they want the most and that is friendly to the environment. That is the look of the IPCVA. Argentine Meat, Sustainable Meat.

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