Sheep are NOT the Climate Problem
June 14, 2023 | Bethanee Jensen
Ontario Sheep has jumped on the climate change bandwagon and has calculated “that 11 kg. of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents are generated for every 1 kg. of lamb produced live weight to the farm gate.” (Ontario Sheep News - Spring edition)
Included in this calculation was every possible contributor, including the estimated applicable amount of emissions from both parents from birth to death as well as from the lamb’s own enteric emissions, feed production, energy use on the farm, and farm building and manure management.
At first reading, this sounds like an astronomical amount and supports the narrative that ruminants are bad (thanks, Ontario Sheep).
However, nothing was included on the positive side. No consideration was given to the benefits of natural vs. chemical fertilizer, the benefits of the pasture itself, or the fact that if the pasture grass was left to die and decompose, it would still produce methane.
A brief Google search revealed the following:
NEPC Grazing Guide
“The conversion of croplands to pasture usually adds 0.2-0.5 tons of soil C per acre per year… for 15-25 years, then [stabilizes]… Even when mature pastures are no longer sequestering new carbon, they are an important pool of stored carbon… Establishing and maintaining pastures plays a valuable role in efforts to reduce atmospheric CO2 levels as well as contributing to the overall improvement of the environment.”
IFAS Extension University of Florida
“…grazing land represents an important component of terrestrial carbon dioxide (CO2) offset and is a significant sink for long-term carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas mitigation.”
Union of Concerned Scientists (JSTOR)
“Pastures that see low to moderate amounts of grazing may actually sequester more carbon than ungrazed pastures.”
Whether you believe in creation or evolution, either way, nature has a way of balancing itself. Neither God nor evolution would have created something nature couldn’t handle. Methane produced by enteric emissions of livestock or decomposition of plant life is NATURAL. It breaks down into carbon dioxide and water vapour. This then feeds the plant life, that in turn feeds the sheep, that feeds the plant life, and us. It is a cycle that has been going on since Adam’s son, Abel, raised sheep.
Bethanee Jensen is a Director & Treasurer of the Board of Directors for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy.