|CASTANO-SANCHEZ - New Mexico State University
|Rotz, Clarence - Al
|TOLLE, CINDY - Consultant
|GIFFORD, CRAIG - New Mexico State University
|DUFF, GLENN - New Mexico State University
|MCINTOSH, MATTHEW - New Mexico State University
Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/11/2022
Publication Date: 2/6/2022
Citation: Castano-Sanchez, Rotz, C.A., Tolle, C., Gifford, C., Duff, G., Mcintosh, M., Spiegal, S.A. 2022. Environmental footprints and economic impact of alternative beef supply chains[abstract]. Society for Range Management Meeting Proceedings. P.1.
Interpretive Summary: No Interpretive Summary is need for this Abstract Only. JLB.
Technical Abstract: Beef production in the southwestern United States is projected to experience increasingly warmer and drier climate in the future. Adaptation strategies to these future conditions are needed without compromising environmental quality or profitability. Options include the use of desert-adapted beef cattle biotypes, such as Raramuri Criollo cattle and Criollo crossbreeding with more traditional British breeds. Currently most calves raised in the Southwest are grain finished in the sensitive Ogallala Aquifer region. A viable alternative may be grass finishing in the desert rangeland of the southwest or in the temperate grassland of the Central Plains. We compared the environmental impacts and economics of current production systems using Angus cattle raised in the Southwest and grain-finished on feedlots in the Texas Panhandle with Criollo cattle and crosses (Criollo x Angus) finished on high-grain or high-grass diets. Current and alternative supply chain strategies were simulated using the Integrated Farm System Model to determine effects on farm-gate life cycle intensities of greenhouse gas emissions, fossil energy use, nitrogen losses, blue water consumption and production costs, using representative (appropriate soils, climate, and management) ranch and feedlot operations. Regardless of finishing options, Criollo x Angus cattle had the best environmental and economic outcomes, followed by pure Criollo cattle and then Angus. The crossbreed combined the desert adapted grazing behavior and rusticity of Criollo cattle with heavier Angus carcasses and added hybrid vigor. Considering the combination of breed and finishing options, Criollo x Angus cattle with grass finishing in the Southwest or in the Central Plains outperformed on most environmental variables and production costs, mostly due to reduced external input requirements (primarily feed). A downside was greater carbon emission compared to grain finishing due to greater methane emissions from high forage diets and an extended time to finish.