Why Are Cows Bad for the Environment? (4 Reasons)

Why Are Cows Bad for the Environment

You may not think a beautiful animal can actually be bad for our environment, but in some circumstances, you’d be wrong! So why are cows bad for the environment when they are the beautiful and majestic animals of the farming world.

They are incredibly gentle in their nature unless under threat and often happier in their collective herds, as they are relatively sociable animals.

The animals, part of the Bovine family, can often be seen in clusters around most countryside settings across the UK, loafing around in fields while chewing the grass and chilling in the surroundings.

So how, you ask, can these beautiful beasts be harmful to the environment when all they do is be their happy vegetarian selves and seemingly just remain happy by just existing?

This is where the Bovine plot twist comes in. Here are 4 reasons why cows are bad for the environment:

Intensive Farming With Cows

Intensive farming is where animals, in this case, cows, are intensively farmed for their meat, milk, or other products, to the point they are packed in their droves to give a higher output.

This kind of farming is, unfortunately (in a majority of cases), all about profit from the end result as opposed to the best welfare arrangements for each individual animal.

Apart from the fact that intensive farming of animals is far from the best solution to get to the end product, the process can actually exacerbate the detrimental impact cows have on the environment.

Increased Grain Feed

Intensive farming for cows will require, as you can imagine, a lot of grain feed daily, just to ensure they are fed to minimum requirements.

Cows are substantially large animals, and if there are a lot of them being intensively farmed in one place, that’s a LOT of grain!

If you can imagine this amount of grain: 25 pounds of grain mix per day, per cow. This amount puts a significant strain on agricultural suppliers of the feed just to meet the demand of each cow in these intensive conditions, which is far from ideal.

So intensive agriculture means more concentrated pockets of pollution – Not great.

Deforestation To Provide The Land To Grow The Grain

Can you sense a theme happening here?

Beef production has been shown to be the number one reason for deforestation within the tropical forests of the world.

To grow the vast quantities of grain that are required to feed adequately, and by adequately we mean the minimum that is declared as adequate by factory farming governing bodies, there is a need to create arable land to support the growth, and this usually means a certain amount of deforestation to accommodate the land needed.

Deforestation for Farming Cows

Deforestation is devastating in any terms, in ways including:

  • Reduction of suitable natural habitat for wild animals
  • Increased greenhouse gasses released into the atmosphere
  • Climate change
  • Global warming

While this all sounds very “global,” it really can be helped on a really local level. Obviously, the chain of reducing deforestation to provide the amount of grain needed for the factory-farmed cows may actually start with reducing the number of factory farms.

Increased Methane Quantities

Believe it or not, but the global dairy and beef production sector of agriculture is one of the most significant contributors to greenhouse gas accumulation.

Methane, the product that is excreted by the cow’s digestion, and waste products make up around half of the total greenhouse gases from this particular industry sector, which is an incredible fact!

Of course, the higher the production of beef and dairy, the more methane is produced.

This fact will increase accordingly in line with the increasing numbers of cows. Regardless of whether the cows are intensively farmed for their products or reared in the best conditions possible, this unfortunate fact is still the case.

How Can You Help Create A Positive Impact?

There are, of course, ways you can have a positive impact on the factors mentioned here, and in turn, have a positive result on the environmental factors associated with the majestic cow, such as:

Limiting Your Intake Of Beef

When you limit your beef intake to 1-2 portions a week, you will be having a positive impact on the overall detrimental effects of everything mentioned here; where there is less demand, there will inevitably be less demand on supply.

No more than 2 portions of red meat is recommended for optimum dietary requirements per week, and those 2 portions can really go a long way with a bit of creativity!

Choose Sustainable Sources Of Beef

By choosing beef that has been reared in smaller groups, you are not only supporting smaller businesses themselves, but you will also be supporting the smaller businesses that provide for the cows and raise them in more ethical conditions.

This can positively impact the environment in regards to their feed, as they will most likely be able to free-roam and free-feed and do not require mechanical feeding on demand.

Lower grain requirements mean lower rates of deforestation and lower negative impact on the environment.

When buying meat, look for grass-fed instead of grain-fed!

Choose The Best Quality Beef Available

When you choose the best quality beef available to you, you are making sure that you are getting the best product that has been produced by experts in the field of meat production.

Again, this signifies support for local and small meat producers and places less demand on places that produce cheap meat, which inevitably is far more detrimental to the environment.

What’s the Beef With Cows and the Environment?

No matter how desperately hard we try, we will never eradicate the fact that cows are considered bad for the environment with the methane they produce as part of just being alive.

However, the actions we take as humans can reduce the need for intensive farming of cows, thus reducing the detrimental impact on the environment in other ways too.

By choosing the best quality beef from local experts and farms, we are reducing the need for cheap meat production and making sure that we get the best quality meat available to us as consumers.

Of course, red meat intake should be limited for our own health and the impact on the red meat food chain.

Always choose sustainable ways and means; it really can make a difference to animals and the environment.

Stacy F

Stacy is a UK Based lifestyle writer who writes in the food and nutrition niches, as well as within the health and wellness sectors. She is a mum of 4 and married to a musician, so sustainability and a pinch of humour are absolutely essential to get over every one of life's obstacles!

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