The potential global impacts of adopting low-input and organic livestock production (UN FAO)
Like so many contemporary reports concerning farmed livestock, the starting point for this report is clear – “business as usual” is not an option. However, considerable debate continues about the best way forward.
On the one hand, modern intensive livestock systems are highly efficient in terms of high per-head productivity of meat, milk and eggs.
On the other hand, the intensification of livestock systems during the past few decades has resulted in a number of downsides. With the substitution of grassland with feed concentrates, the pressure on arable land has increased and led to severe nutrient imbalances at farm, country and regional levels. Furthermore, intensification of livestock production resulted in a higher incidence of livestock diseases and a decreased longevity of animals.
The report looks at five radically different scenarios:
- Livestock feeding rations remain unchanged
- A 50% reduction in concentrate feeding
- A complete ban on concentrates
- A complete conversion to organic livestock husbandry
- A conversion to organic production including also a ban on concentrate feeding
The study is probably one of the most comprehensive that has been undertaken and the conclusions will come as a surprise to advocates of intensification and organic production alike.
Read the full Report (PDF): Sustainability and Organic Livestock Modelling (SOL-m)