Climate & Environment

Calculating livestock’s hoofprint

Photo Credit: Felix Clay/Duckrabbit

Livestock systems vary greatly around the world and can enhance or harm the environment depending on how they are managed. Livestock and environment interactions include climate change, water and land use, nutrient recycling, and biodiversity.

Livestock play a key role in the bio-economy by increasing the value of crop residues and agricultural by-products.  Context-specific livestock production practices can be developed to maximize the synergies between livestock and the environment.

Climate change adaptation:

Livestock production is an effective way to help farmers adapt to climate change and the drier conditions that may occur. After a climate shock, livestock are often the only asset that people have to help them recover.

Climate change mitigation:

Feeding animals better and enhancing rangeland productivity through better pasture management along with other interventions to improve productivity can significantly reduce unit emissions.

Competition for land and water:

The demand by livestock for feed and land does not necessarily compete with the food needs of people.

Sustainable resource management:

Well-managed livestock can ensure sustainable land and water management. Livestock manure is a ready source of natural fertilizer for crops, providing 12% of the nitrogen used for crop production globally, rising to 23% in mixed crop livestock systems. Livestock can also help restore degraded land; and in rangelands, livestock keeping can contribute to the biodiversity…

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