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LM McWilliams
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Methane production by livestock The depth and breadth of information on this site is considerable - and appreciated. But let's look a little closer at the methane production issue of ruminant livestock like sheep, goats, alpacas, etc. The total number of ruminant animals may - in some areas of the world - have shifted toward domestic rather than non-domestic species, but has not increased. Ruminants on diets that include significant amounts of grain produce more methane than those on forages, such as pasture and hay. The measurement of methane production of ruminants on an unnatural diet and extrapolating that figure to all domestic ruminants, as was done, is inaccurate. Even in first world countries, little or no grain is fed to most fiber bearing livestock, reducing the methane production per head, AND the amount of fossil fuels that would otherwise be used in current industrial agriculture methods to grow and transport grain. Grazing livestock provides a sustainable living to people in many parts of the world where growing food crops is limited or impossible. Proper management of grazing livestock mimics the eco niche ruminants occupy in natural ecosystems. When properly managed, grazing livestock increases soil fertility and biodiversity of grazing lands. Minimal labor and no fossil fuels or agriculture chemicals are required. On our own farm, we produce alpaca fiber using no agricultural chemicals. Good herd management has reduced the need for veterinary pharmicudicals to nearly zero. The land, depleted by unsustainable industrial agricultural practices, has gained in fertility and production capacity each year, without the use of any herbicides, pesticides, or chemical fertilizers. It can be done.
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