July 19, 2016 – The 5th Grazing Livestock Nutrition Conference (GLNC) comes to a close this morning after a successful three days discussing solutions for enhancing management, production, and sustainability of grazing ruminants in extensive landscapes. With around 140 attendees, it has been a fantastic opportunity to share ideas and generate new ones. Attending talks discussing similar research is great way for graduate students to confirm that they are on the right track.
These talks have been focused especially on efficiently raising meat to feed the growing world population. An emphasis has been placed on doing this in an environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable manner.
Joyce Turk, retired from the US Agency for International Development, discussed the issue of world hunger and how beef and dairy products can be a solution. As developing countries are projected to consume more milk and meat than developed countries by 2050, it is important to find ways to increase production and supply to feed the increasing demand. Ms. Turk recommend education for developing countries on nutrition and health to help reduce the issue of hunger and malnutrition.
Dr. Kim Stackhouse from JBS USA discussed the meaning of global sustainability. She pointed out that sustainability requires profitability, and therefore it is important to consider sustainability from a multi-faceted standpoint. Dr. Stackhouse acknowledges that consumers of younger generations desire sustainable foods, yet this can create issues for production systems that have proven to be sustainable and efficient for years. She contends that what is needed is not knowledge of how to be sustainable, but rather how to be more sustainable. Organizations such as the US Round Table for Sustainable Beef have been working at ways to measure and increase sustainability in beef production.
On the production side, Dr. Joel Caton of North Dakota State University presented on the impacts of activity and climate on grazing cattle energetics. Dr. Caton along with Dr. Bret Olson (Montana State University) found that the 1996 NRC model for predicting nutrition needs may over-predict energy demands of cattle in cold environments. Under cold conditions, it was found that reducing activity level and maximizing heat gain can reduce the cattle’s metabolic rate and therefore decrease their nutrient needs in winter, reducing the economic cost of supplying winter feed.
These presentations, along with the other thirteen presentations and over twenty posters create a comprehensive picture of the role of raising beef as an important food source to feed the population of the future. Not only can cattle, in the words of Dr. Caton, “turn grass into steak and ice cream,” they also can efficiently use resources unavailable humans and provide valuable nutrition for human consumption.
Recordings of the presentations from GLNC will be available for purchase in the coming weeks.