Thursday, May 13, 2010
Converting Grass into Meat
I frequently hear the "fact" that livestock production is an inefficient use of land, so I thought I’d have a little fun and dust off some of my old pasture management information. We can debate the numbers, but I don’t think I’m too far off ...
Let's assume the following:
- Dry matter yield from perennial ryegrass & white clover pasture of 10,000 lb per acre
- 75% of the pasture dry matter produced is consumed by the grazing animal
- A conversion rate of 14 lb of pasture dry matter per lb of hanging weight
- An edible yield of 65% of the hanging weight
- A cooked yield of 56% of the raw weight
- A per meal protein requirement of 4 ounces of cooked meat
- 3 meals per day
Under these conditions, a piece of pasture less than 209 x 209 feet could produce enough meat to supply a person's daily protein needs for 260 days (not to mention the lovely fat!). Remember that this land can be completely unsuited to the production of grains, fruits, or vegetables.
If we could bump the pasture yield to 15,000 lbs of DM per acre, we could produce sufficient meat to supply a person's daily protein needs for 390 days!!
Oh, and by the way, perennial pasture produces about as much root dry matter as it does above-ground dry matter, thus fixing more carbon. Even poorly-managed pasture is equal to woodland in terms of "fixing" carbon, while well-managed pasture is many times better.
This from a perennial "crop" that requires minimal fertilizer, pesticides, equipment, or petroleum to produce. But it isn’t “green” ‘cause it’s not vegetarian!