Mitigating emissions through strategic beef cattle management

Beef cattle contribute to methane and nitrous oxide emissions during their digestion and waste processes. The emission levels of a beef cattle herd are closely linked to its productivity, which can be influenced by factors such as feed quality and herd management techniques. By ensuring that cattle have access to high-quality feed, not only do their survival and growth rates improve, but the environmental impact is also minimised.

Implementing improved breeding practices and culling less productive animals can further enhance the overall performance of the herd. This results in herds with a lower average age and higher weight gain relative to age. As a consequence, emissions are reduced because cattle produce emissions for fewer days, and fewer animals are needed to achieve the same level of output, leading to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly cattle farming operation.

What Can I Do?

A variety of management practices are available to reduce emissions of a herd. Farmers can consider implementing the following practices depending on appropriateness for their specific purposes: 

  • Enhance Pasture Quality: Invest in higher-quality pasture to improve cattle nutrition and reduce the need for supplementary feed.
  • Year-Round Feed Supplements: Provide cattle with feed supplements throughout the year to ensure consistent and balanced nutrition, reducing the environmental impact.
  • Optimise Weaning Percentage: Improve your herd’s overall productivity by culling unproductive cows during weaning, leading to a more efficient and sustainable operation.
  • Herd Movement Control: Install fencing to control herd movements.
  • Expand Watering Points: Increase the number of watering points to allow cattle to graze more widely and make better use of available pasture resources.
  • Enhance Genetics and Breeding Practices: Focus on improving the genetics of your herd and adopting advanced breeding practices to develop more efficient cattle. By doing so, you can facilitate quicker growth and earlier market readiness, thus reducing the time cattle spend on the farm and minimising emissions. This approach not only boosts operational efficiency but also reduces the environmental footprint of your cattle farming.

Enhancing your herd management practices could make your operations eligible to earn Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) through the Clean Energy Regulator’s Beef cattle herd management method. Seek expert advice to determine if this aligns with your operational needs.

Read more:

Beef cattle herd management approved for Emissions Reduction Fund