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Does raising Cattle harm the environment or even (GASP) humans?

Updated on March 19, 2009
Angus Cattle
Angus Cattle
A tropical Forest that was taken down for use of cattle.  Look at the cattle and notice the build- tall but skinny and more than likely not grained properly.
A tropical Forest that was taken down for use of cattle. Look at the cattle and notice the build- tall but skinny and more than likely not grained properly.
Organic Cattle.  Take note in the build.  If you're all for animal rights, keep in mind, it takes more organic cattle to kill to equal the amount of lean meat that an angus provides.
Organic Cattle. Take note in the build. If you're all for animal rights, keep in mind, it takes more organic cattle to kill to equal the amount of lean meat that an angus provides.
An angus bull
An angus bull
Darr Feedlot in Cozad, Nebraska.  Nebraska has the 3rd highest amount of Angus cattle in the nation.
Darr Feedlot in Cozad, Nebraska. Nebraska has the 3rd highest amount of Angus cattle in the nation.

Do people really know the facts?

 I decided to review articles on this site, gain some insight, and maybe get ideas.  Well, I got an idea.  I noticed that people on this site have a MAJOR problem; you need to site your sources.  You aren’t doing all this research yourself so you need to give credit to the people who did.  So, because of this, I’m going to separate fact from fiction.


While reading the article “Seven Ways to Change the World”, I noticed that the structure of the article is great; everything flows and it’s very informational.  However, is the information correct?  I’m very open minded so I agree that everyone is entitled to opinion.  On the other hand, reading that food with pesticides is harmful to humans and the environment is not necessarily correct.  The sources to the article were all promotions for organic food.  There are many studies that defend both sides of the argument.  Do some research and see for yourself.  Why do I make this suggestion?  I grew up in a small town in the Midwest and my family made a living by farming.  YEP.  Didn’t see that one coming did you?  So, when I read in this article that, and I quote:

“One hamburger causes 55 square feet of rain forest destruction (for tropically raised beef) and 12 pounds of livestock feces and other pollutants. Worldwide, livestock now produce 130 times as much waste as people do. Livestock waste disposal is often unregulated or unenforced and improper disposal of livestock waste has been linked to many human and environmental health disasters.”

OKAY!  Let’s analyze this step by step.  FIRST OFF, I understand that tropic beef more than likely exists but according to, because angus’s have the ability to calve with almost no complications, can easily cross bread with a variety of cattle, and have an amazing coat to protect the meat and skin, angus meat is the market choice.  But the truth of the matter is that you cannot find Angus in a tropical environment.  They are bread to be big and lean, not to mention, the build of an Angus is very square which would make living in the tropics very difficult; they just wouldn’t survive.  So, in all reality, sure, tropical cattle are more than likely shipped to the U.S. for the market, but they aren’t worth anything and aren’t grade choice.  Maybe Wal-Mart sells it.  However, most restaurants and grocery stores will only sell Angus meat.

SECOND, livestock waste disposal… oh dear.  So, we have this machine called a loader and a spreader.  The loader is a tractor with a big ol’ bucket in front.  We take the loader and scoop up all the, ehem, waste and put it in a spreader. The spreader then grinds up all the, ehem, waste, and proceeds to spread it as a fertilizer before we plant.  You like organic foods, honey, well, this is as organic as it gets.  As for being harmful to humans, according to the Lincoln journal star:

“The Environmental Protection Agency does not even list livestock as a concern in the United States with regard to carbon dioxide emissions. That EPA report also shows that, by far, the largest emitter of methane gas is solid waste landfills, which account for 24 percent of all methane emissions.” Personal note:  maybe we should worry about how well we manage our waste before we start chewing the cattle out, if cattle produce 130 times as much waste as we do but our waste outshadows theirs, well, that’s a problem… let’s continue…  “ The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association [says] that Environmental Protection Agency data show the entire U.S. agricultural sector contributed only 6.4 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, with all livestock contributing only 2 percent.”

I’m sure there are no health disasters.  What’s your source of information?

The point I’m making today is that if you would like to express your opinion on subjects like this, that’s great but don’t create an informational article without all the information.  It’s one sided, and you’re portraying your opinion as fact.  That’s not correct and it gives people a false insight.  Happy hubbing!


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    • profile image

      harini 7 years ago


    • Brook Winters profile image

      Brook Winters 7 years ago

      No arguement. I think some are looking into this WAY too far. The angus agruement: simply put, angus is defined by whether or not a cow is 75% black... yep. So before you tell me we don't eat angus, well, now you know the definition; to be angus, the only requirement is to be black. The angus breed is generaly mixed with something else to make them bigger (as you previously pointed out).

      TOUCHE Weisangst for your very detailed information.

      You know, there's so much opinion about the subject but truth be told, the point of this article was not to start hub page chaos but simply bring up the fact that before we start blaming cattle for ruining the environment, we need to look at ourselves.

      Quote of the day: Don't blame the cows... blame bp...

    • profile image

      Weisangst 8 years ago

      50,000 pounds of potatoes for 250 pounds of meat? Where did you get that, is that an average in Idaho maybe? 8 oz of meat per

      I own an organic, self sufficient farm in East tennessee, and crunched some numbers on your 2 facts, and will dispute them to the end of the earth, and have the proof to back it up.

      I have about 15 acres of total pasture. I raise sheep, goats, pigs and Angus on my property, and use a heavy pasture rotating system.

      I almost never bring in any outside feed sources. I grow all our corn (heirloom breeds, not monsanto garbage, I do buy some cotton seed though, and molasses and salt and we get our feed grinded up at the Co-Op, but 90% of our feed consists of the corn.

      Not all the animals get this mix though, only our Ewes and Does or Cows in the last trimester, or an animal who was sick and needs to get some weight back, other than that, all my beef is raised on grass only.

      So, this year, I had 20 steers on my 15 acres, that they rotate around on with the 40 ewes and 10 does also get access to the same pasture my steers and Cows also.

      So, of those 20 steers, they were all brought to market weight and sold to private customers at around 1000 pounds without any other food that what I produced on my property.

      Average weight of actual meat was 501 pounds (we use lowline angus bulls to increase hanging weight). that is 10,000 pounds of meat for 15 acres, but wait, we also raise 60-70 lambs on that, so have to add in another 4000 or so pounds. Oh, and add in another 20 baby goats who get slaughtered, and there is another 1000 or so pound.

      Add in the 60 slaguther pigs a year we raise there, and that is another 11000 pounds.

      That is 26,250 pounds of meat if my math is right off of 15 acres, and this also does not include the Cows, ewes, does, billies and such that do not get slaughtered.

      So, according to your source, I should be able to produce about 5.25 million pounds of potatoes also, but I can not find a source anywhere that confirms I can get more than 30,000 pounds of potatoes off 1 acre, which means IF I did grow nothing but taters, I would produce about 500K pounds of taters, far far far short of the number they are claiming, so I am going to call MAJOR BS on that. I got the numbers in front of me.

      I did not even include the eggs, poultry, fruits, veges, honey, fish that also are harvested on this same land.

      Now, I am not a commerical farmer, and I think that is who you MIGHT be attacking, but my numbers are far superior to the numbers you were dropping also.

      I also call BS on the water number, and ran the numbers, but I will let you answer this post first, and then if you feel it is needed, I will demolish the water numbers also.

      How is an animal crapping on a pasture having an effect on the enviornment when they have been doing it long before you greenies came up with GW? Your argument again may be vs Commerical farming, which I am in your camp on, as I see that organic and self sufficient farming being the wave of the future, as Americans return to their roots.

    • profile image

      Karin 8 years ago

      Me again. Only I'm coming back for the agrument about Angus. You have put quite the biased info for all cattle in the world. There are a number of breeds out there that can and have done better than Angus in terms of calving ease, forage convertibility, mothering ability, hybrid vigour when crossbreeding with other breeds, and carcass quality. Angus cattle do poorly in hot, humid climates. That's why Brahman cattle have been bred to exist in the South. That's why breeds like Brangus, Beefmaster, Santa Gertrudis, Bonsmara and Senepols have done much better down there than the fabled Angus. They also have good carcass quality, good calving ease and good hybrid vigour in a crossbreeding program. But they are better adapted to their climate, with more ear and more looser skin than what the Angus breed can generate. You also say that Angus are "bred to be big and lean, not to mention, the build of an Angus is very square which would make living in the tropics very difficult." I completely disagree. Apparently you have never seen the build or the shape of Brahman-type cattle, including Brangus. They are bigger than Angus in size, and they are also blocky and square. Size and stature has NOTHING to do with how cattle are going to survive in (in this case) a hotter climate. You must learn that the differences are just two things: skin and ear. Angus do not have porous skin, in other words they cannot sweat because they do not have sweat glands in their skin. All European cattle do not have sweat glands. Bos indicus type cattle do. They also have thicker and more looser hide, which contributes to the fact that thicker hide means the heat does not penetrate as easily. Looser hide means that there is more surface area for the animal to remain cool. Hide colour is less significant, as Brangus cattle are also black, but since Angus have thin skin and a black hide, the heat from the sun is easily absorbed into the black skin, and with a thinner hide, it makes it more easier for this breed to get hot and succumb to heat stroke or heat exhaustion. THAT is why the Angus breed does not do well in tropical and even hot and arid environments. Herefords do better than Angus in hot environments because of their thicker hide, and their coat colour which reflects heat from the sun more efficiently than Angus cattle do. This is why you see Hereford cattle do very well in the hot desert of the Mohave and are even found on the veld in South Africa.

      Angus cattle are bred to be big and lean because that is what today's market calls for: bigger cattle with less fat. But why do we have these Continentals then, that also grow to be big and lean? A lot of the Angus you are thinking of could be crossed with breeds like Simmental, Charolais, Maine Anjou or Limousin, to name a few, that have large, lean carcasses. Much of the Angus breed even has these breeds infused into it, believe it or not, even if they are purebred. For instance, an Angus cow with 7/8 Simmental in her is eligible for regristration as a purebred Angus; so long as she is "Angusy" and black. No wonder much of today's modern Angus cattle are "big and square!" Did you know that before CAB began marketing Angus beef to consumers and before the grain-fed industry took over, that much of the Angus cows matured at 850 to 1000 lbs? These cattle were range cattle, and did very well on just grass and hay. Back then folks didn't need these whopping 2000 lb monster cows because they wouldn't last long in those conditions. They still don't when put on a pasture/hay-only diet, as these big girls tend to cull themselves out pretty quickly. However the grain market and a growing human population has saved them in this sense, and so has the meat-packer's criteria for big finisher cattle. And now it's biting us back.

      Now another thing that has really annoyed me is your following comments: "Angus is what american's eat." "most restaurants and grocery stores will only sell Angus meat." Not so. How do you know if the CAB-certified pack of round roast wrapped in cellophane and served on a styrofoam platter REALLY is Angus? How do the consumers know?? They don't! You don't! For all we know, that slab of beef could've come from a Holstein steer, or even a Hereford-Simmental-Angus X heifer! You seem to fail to realize what CAB has done to boost the marketing initiative of Angus beef. So I'll enlighten you: CAB has taken advantage of the carelessness and blindness of consumers. However cattle producers have taken advantage of CAB. Reason I say this is because 1) the consumers don't have the time to care of where this slab of meat came from, nor what animal. Since they see that silly little label, it's an automatic response to the successful marketing campaign of "Angus is Best!" to think that that slab of beef is better than the other cuts that are not labeled "Certified Angus Beef." What if that cut is NOT Angus? What if it's from a black Simmental or black Gelbvieh? Since the animal that has been slaughtered is black, then it obviously counts as CAB certified! It's this mentality that has gotten many producers, on the Black Bandwagon. Since CAB has been successful with its initiative, cattle producers are able to take advantage of this and sell black-hided cattle for a premium. This is what I meant when I said that cattle producers have taken advantage of CAB. Black cattle are just that: BLACK. They can be a mix of breeds or purebred cattle that are not just Angus: Gelbvieh, Salers, Simmental, Limousin, Maine Anjou and some Charolais breeders have taken this Black Advnatage and created purebreds that are all black. And since they are black, they are able to ring the bell at the salebarn and get a premium. And these black cattle are able to get the CAB sticker on their carcasses and slabs of meat at the superstore.

      So don't EVER let me hear you say that "Angus is what America eats."

    • profile image

      Karin 8 years ago

      There seem to be a lot of loop-holes in your first argument. Why did you insert the argument about Angus when the topic you posted was about tropical, Brahman-type cattle that were grazed in those areas where the rainforest was (and is) burnt to the ground? It made no sense to me, and it was because of that that I got completely lost; you made no argument to the first part of the quoted statement whatsoever. That statement had nothing to do with the Angus breed, from what I could see.

      So here's my thoughts, taking out the Angus part of things completely: Rainforest is destroyed simply because the cattle barons of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, etc. want to make money. In order to make money, they need more land. The only way to make more land is to clear-cut the rainforest to allow their herds of cattle (of a variety of breeds and mix-breds)to graze. With more cattle to graze the land, it allows the cattle-barons more cattle to sell, and thus, get more money. Cutting down the rainforest is all about money, essentially. It's also about the lack of education that these barons have about grazing cattle properly that also contributes to the problem. What about the poorer folk that have cattle? They don't have any education about stocking rates, grazing management, body condition scoring, or anything like that. All they do is what the cattlemen in the 1800's have done in America: when there's lots of grass, lets put LOTS of cattle on. And what do we get? Overgrazing. Soil erosion. Not to mention more carbon and methane emissions from these kinds of cattle that are consuming poor forage and can't digest them efficiently, hence thinner animals! With the cattle population booming in South America, so does the USA government allow for imports of cheap, S.Am. beef. And yes, Wal-Mart for sure allows for purchasing and selling of cheap foreign beef: heck there's a market for it! And when there's a market for selling cheap beef, consumers take the hook. And when consumers take the hook, so the Amazonian cattle-barons are more than happy to supply America with more beef. Why argue the above point about rainforest destruction when it's right in front of our noses?? All we can do is strive to do better by not eating any such meat, and instead buy locally raised beef instead, particularly that which is grass-fed. And it doesn't have to be Angus beef either!

    • profile image

      Brook 8 years ago

      Confused... What question? You mean Kj's question? Sure I can answer it. I was looking for a topic more specific and that's why I responded to kj's question with another question. Are you kj, Chloe?

    • profile image

      ChlOe 8 years ago

      you still haven't answered my question though

    • profile image

      Brook 8 years ago

      on another note, angus beef can't survive in warm places... only in northern midwest states are they bred. The heat would kill them, the cold will kill them... and the midwest is the happy medium... Did you know that Nebraska is #3 for the state that contains the most angus beef. Angus is what american's eat. cattle bred in the tropics, well, I'm not certain but I'll take a wild guess and say americans aren't the ones eating 'em... talk to some south american countries, they they can tell you how they are starving and its they only way to make a living.

      I wrote this, like, a year ago. I'm surprised people still read it.

    • kiwinana profile image

      Elsie Hagley 8 years ago from New Zealand

      After reading this, I do not believe, that it is possible for anyone to write all that I read about cattle harming the environment, I am lost for words.

    • profile image

      Brook 8 years ago

      Help people? Like, economically, or nutritionally? That's another article in itself

    • profile image

      kj 8 years ago

      how does a cattle hep people

    • profile image

      Brook 8 years ago

      Honestly, That's an acceptable argument. That is something I can agree with. I merely covered two points I had read that I thought seemed a bit rediculous but your side, however, has a better argument. Thank you :)

    • profile image

      Elliot 8 years ago

      I cant say that i really agree with much of this. Cattle does take up tremendous amounts of resources. I cant say for sure but im guessing that you did not grow up on a factory farm type feedlot operation that are prevalent today.

      8 ounces of beef can require up to 25,000 liters of water

      The same amound of land that produces 250 pounds of beef can produce 40,000 pounds of potatoes or 50,000 pounds of tomatoes. i dont feel like citing that one because its from a book but just because you were raised farming cattle does not mean that is how all cattle operations are set up. and citing information about beef from is about the same as looking up abortion information from the popes homepage. from everything that i have read i have certainly come to the conclusion that the current state of the meat industry is bad and growing worse. I read in one place that if the entire world followed the same diet as the average american then the entire worlds oil reserves would be depleted in 10 years. i just dont see a way how the meat industry could not have a negative effect on the environment.

    • profile image

      Nymphadora 9 years ago

      Very nicely written I'll keep that in mind next time I go shopping for meat. Thanks!


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