Why it’s Important
Feeding cattle and sheep just on pasture produces quality meat for us to eat today, while helping meet the challenge of feeding an expanding global population in the future.
Publications such as the Foresight Report and Agriculture at a Crossroads have considered how to feed nine billion people in 2050, despite the increased pressure on farmland, and the need to deliver environmental and social benefits as well.
Influential bodies such as the United Nations have started to recognise the importance of grass-fed livestock in providing a solution.
Intensive meat production is inefficient
Intensive methods of livestock production – keeping animals inside and feeding them grain and processed feeds - require up to ten calories of animal feed to make just one calorie of food for human consumption.
This highly inefficient use of land, water, minerals and fossil fuels is also driving the destruction of places like the Amazon rainforest, to grow soya specifically to feed to cattle.
Farmers who decide to keep their animals on just grass and forage crops have unhooked themselves from this compulsion to produce meat more quickly, which uses up precious resources and comes at greater environmental cost.
Two thirds of UK farmland is covered in grass, which thrives in the warm, wet climate. In many places it is grown where other human crops would not survive, leaving the best land for cultivating wheat, maize and vegetables for people to eat, not animals.
Cattle and sheep have complex stomachs that have the unique ability to turn the fibre inside grass and other plants into products that are useful to us, like meat, milk and wool.
Through their grazing, these animals also manage the countryside in a natural way, a job that would otherwise be done by men and machines.
Is better for animals
Compelling scientific research shows animals fed on pasture are less stressed, live longer and are more fertile than those farmed intensively.
Produces higher quality meat and milk
Food from animals that are grass-fed is healthier for humans to eat than meat produced from grain-fed cattle and sheep.
Is good for the environment
Pasture Farms often have a positive carbon footprint – putting goodness back into soils rather than depleting them. They also support more wildlife.
Uses local resources
Grass is the UK’s national crop but is often under-utilised. There is great potential to produce more food from Britain’s grassland, reducing the need to import feeds from abroad.