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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mini Cows Just Might Save the Planet

Posted By on Wed, Aug 4, 2010 at 3:18 PM

click to enlarge Mini cows: Three times the beef for a third of the feed. - GUARDIAN.CO.UK
  • guardian.co.uk
  • Mini cows: Three times the beef for a third of the feed.
Part of why agribusiness beef is such an environmental nightmare is that the cows are fucking huge, often tipping the scales at over half a ton apiece. However, for every pound of meat ranchers can glean, cows chomp 16 pounds of grain and soy and suck down 2,500 gallons of water ― without providing enough calories to offset what they consume. When a lot of food goes to making less food, fewer people have enough to eat. These same cows also generate greenhouse gases, which increasingly, we all rightfully have a problem with.

Enter the mini cow. No, that meter-tall bovine to your right is not Paris Hilton's newest warm-blooded. half-pint plaything. According to a recent Guardian UK article, more and more American farms are, like their British counterparts, avoiding Holsteins and Aberdeen Angus in favor of smaller breeds. It's currently estimated that well over 20,000 mini cows are being raised in the U.S.

The idea of a small heifer reeks of novelty, but there may be other benefits: The Guardian claims that 10 miniature cows can be raised on five acres (enough space for two full-sized cows), yielding nearly three times as much beef from animals requiring one-third the feed. Furthermore, 10 of the little ones produce the same quantity of methane as one full-sized steer. And if the article's experts are to be believed, the smaller breeds taste better.

Perhaps small ones are indeed sweeter. Still, there's the cute factor to be considered. Are we really ready for a petite porterhouse?

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Andrew Simmons

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