May Is Beef Month
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Did you know May is beef month? The beef industry strengthens North Carolina Agriculture in many diverse ways. As of January 2019, there were 367,000 beef cattle in North Carolina and they can be found in all 100 counties. Cattle are great at upcycling food that is not fit for human consumption because they have unique digestive systems that can consume plants and by-products and convert it into quality protein. Feeding by-products is a cost effective and environmentally sustainable way to feed cattle. Instead of ending up in the landfill, almond hulls, tomato pulp, cotton seed, citrus pulp, canola meal, distillers’ grains, cannery waste, vegetable trimmings, and even candy and bakery waste can be upcycled into quality protein. 86% of what livestock eat is inedible to humans and 46% is from grass. Globally, livestock eat over 1.9 billion metric tons of leftover human food, fiber and by-products from other industries.
This means marginal farm land that is not desirable to growing crops can be used to grow grass which cattle can graze. Cattle are also an essential component in the management of hog and poultry waste. The waste can be used as fertilizer for pastures to grow forages such as grasses and legumes. These grasslands work as a carbon sink, they continually take carbon out of the atmosphere through photosynthesis. Grasslands globally contain roughly 12% of the terrestrial carbon stocks. Unlike trees which store most of their carbon above ground, grasses have extensive, fibrous, root systems that store carbon. Prescribed fire and grazing management are practices often utilized in grassland management. They are important to maintaining the desired species composition of the ecosystem.