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Exploring Livestock Farming's Dynamic Interplay with Other Production Forms


In this blog post, we dive deep into the multifaceted dynamics of livestock farming and its intricate relationships with other forms of production. Our exploration focuses on the competitive dynamics between animal feed and direct human consumption, the optimal utilization of agricultural land, and the pivotal role of livestock in waste reduction.

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Competition between Animal Feed and Human Food

A study conducted by the FAO in 2017 sheds light on the consumption of animal feed and its impact on human food availability. It revealed that globally, farm animals consumed approximately 6 billion tonnes of feed in 2010. Surprisingly, only 14% of this feed consisted of food suitable for human consumption, such as cereals, while the remaining 86% consisted of non-edible materials. Livestock farming consumes one-third of the world's cereals, a decrease from 42% in 1973.

Understanding the Role of Livestock

Contrary to common belief, the production of 1kg of meat requires an average of 2.8kg of edible dry matter from ruminants and 3.2kg from monogastric animals. Cattle farming primarily relies on fodder (90%), with grain constituting a variable proportion in feedlot systems across different countries. Monogastric animals, such as pigs and poultry, consume more cereals and by-products due to their lower efficiency in digesting fodder. However, they are more efficient converters, requiring less feed to produce a kilogram of meat or protein.

The Co-Products Advantage

Livestock plays a significant role in combating waste by utilizing co-products from crop and agri-food industries. By converting materials unsuitable for human consumption, such as straw, oilcake, and beet pulp, into high-nutritional-value food, animals contribute to resource optimization. Nevertheless, efforts are underway to find ways to optimize these co-products further for human consumption, as leaving crop residues in the field enhances soil protection and organic matter enrichment.

The Complex Case of Soya Meal

Soya meal, originally a by-product of soya oil production, has gained significant demand in animal feed, particularly replacing fishmeal. However, concerns have arisen regarding the environmental impact of soya production, including deforestation, pesticide usage, and displacement of local farmers in countries like Brazil, Argentina, and the USA. Although there is potential for a GMO-free sector, it remains insufficient to replace imported soya currently.

Understanding Land Use

Estimating the surface area dedicated to livestock farming globally poses challenges due to varying methodologies and multiple land use purposes. The FAO's 2006 report suggests that pasture occupies 26% of the land surface, while crops for animal feed account for 33% of arable land. However, a more recent FAO report in 2017 estimates grazing at 15% of the Earth's surface and crops for animal feed at 20%. Notably, two-thirds of global grasslands are located on non-cultivable land, which plays a vital role as carbon sinks and reservoirs of biodiversity.


The relationship between livestock farming and other forms of production is complex, involving considerations of competition for resources, land use, and waste utilization. While livestock consumes some products that could be used for human consumption, it operates on land that is often unsuitable for cultivation. Furthermore, livestock plays an essential role in reducing waste by converting co-products into valuable food resources. Achieving a sustainable balance between livestock farming and other production forms requires careful evaluation of environmental and societal impacts.

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Livestock Farming and Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Understanding the Impact

Livestock farming significantly contributes to climate change through the release of greenhouse gases (GHGs). In this article, we will explore the various gases emitted by livestock and their effects. Additionally, we will discuss the global greenhouse gas emissions from livestock farming, the comparison with transportation emissions, and the potential solutions to reduce the sector's impact.

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