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Bird Friendly Beef

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Old Sunday 8th December 2019, 13:03   #1
Chosun Juan
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Question Bird Friendly Beef

An interesting concept designed to provide conservation benefits to birds whilst tapping into new emerging virtue markets. The birds are one of the best indicators of ecosystem health.

“The Audubon Conservation Ranching certification program is a win-win for farmers and ranchers as well as birds,”
https://agfundernews.com/regen-ag-re...4wlUnA2bDMS0Fs

I'd be curious to hear the views of our many learned and proficient birders here on BF from a food consumer point of view .....

Also, what are the specific requirements ? (from Audubon in the US, and other Bird advocacy groups around the world) - do you think they are legit ? Go far enough ? Viable ?

Some of the work I'm familiar with by Professors S. McIntyre /D. Lindmeyer et al with regard to Grassy Box Gum Woodlands in Australia (an ecotype up to ~90% or more decimated for its agricultural value) show that even with a 10% untouched core habitat and a further 20% connected remnants managed for ecosystem health, and the 70% balance used for mixed farming, that bird connectivity is at best 80% of untouched natural old growth areas. https://books.google.com.au/books/ab...on&redir_esc=y
https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&s...CATHgL5BlFdbte

The goals of Regenerative Agriculture are well intended and perhaps one of our better hopes for avoiding a trainwreck. Further, are these 'Bird Friendly Beef' type certifications workable in practice from a Primary Producers perspective. Isn't this just bound to become the new normal anyway ? (similar to non-muelsed sheep).

With bird numbers in decline pretty much worldwide (some 70-90% in areas such as the Murray-Darling basin here in Australia) I'd like to know folks opinions worldwide - will this type of scheme work for the birds ?

A few more articles of interest to consider:
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles...015.00155/full
https://journals.plos.org/plosone/ar...l.pone.0198382
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3367797/




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Old Sunday 8th December 2019, 13:45   #2
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I suspect it wouldn't work at all in Australia, where ecosystems are not adapted to cattle. Might with extensive ranching of Kangaroos, though.

Where Bos species or close relatives (Bison, Bubalis, etc.) are native (Europe, N America, Asia, Africa), I'd think it could work. It would mean low stocking densities, and a ban on imported feed, growth hormones or prophylactic use of antibiotics and anthelminthics. And permission to allow non-saleable parts to be left out for vulture / scavenger feeding.
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Old Sunday 8th December 2019, 16:33   #3
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I suspect it wouldn't work at all in Australia, where ecosystems are not adapted to cattle. Might with extensive ranching of Kangaroos, though.

Where Bos species or close relatives (Bison, Bubalis, etc.) are native (Europe, N America, Asia, Africa), I'd think it could work. It would mean low stocking densities, and a ban on imported feed, growth hormones or prophylactic use of antibiotics and anthelminthics. And permission to allow non-saleable parts to be left out for vulture / scavenger feeding.
I don't see how any beef farming can be bird friendly given the fact that they're cutting down all the forests to make way for cows.

Even if you don't want to cut meat from your diet, a worldwide embargo on the likes of Macdonalds and Burger King would be a big step forward, it's these global monsters that are creating a lot of the demand for beef.
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Old Sunday 8th December 2019, 17:10   #4
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I don't see how any beef farming can be bird friendly given the fact that they're cutting down all the forests to make way for cows.

Even if you don't want to cut meat from your diet, a worldwide embargo on the likes of Macdonalds and Burger King would be a big step forward, it's these global monsters that are creating a lot of the demand for beef.
Not at low stocking densities, you can have woodland pastures, as was long traditional in much of Europe in the more distant past, and not so very dissimilar to the pre-human mammoth steppe ecology. Dense forests are actually as unnatural in most sites as wholly deforested landscapes.

Agree 100% on MacD, B.K., et al., they're the ones driving the unsustainable beef farming with full deforestation.
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Old Sunday 8th December 2019, 22:19   #5
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I think there is a great potential here for preservation of semi-natural grassy wetlands and dry meadows in Central and Eastern Europe.

Mind you, however, grazing protects wildlife and cares of welfare of the cattle precisely because it is low intensity. So for many people it is a waste of resources.

My fear is, that in the name of protecting biodiversity from future climate change, they are likely to destroy the said biodiversity immediately.
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Old Monday 9th December 2019, 06:55   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andyadcock View Post
I don't see how any beef farming can be bird friendly given the fact that they're cutting down all the forests to make way for cows.

Even if you don't want to cut meat from your diet, a worldwide embargo on the likes of Macdonalds and Burger King would be a big step forward, it's these global monsters that are creating a lot of the demand for beef.
I think we can take it as read that any clear felling of primary forest /woodlands for the purposes of high intensity industrial farming are out of the question.

If we are to be fair dinkum about the whole thing, then we must also restore/ rehabilitate much of the previously destroyed landscapes that have fallen foul of this exploitation. The question is - what methods will work for the planet and wild fauna/ flora ??




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Old Monday 9th December 2019, 07:00   #7
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Question Is Bird Friendly Beef a legit thing ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nutcracker View Post
I suspect it wouldn't work at all in Australia, where ecosystems are not adapted to cattle. Might with extensive ranching of Kangaroos, though.

Where Bos species or close relatives (Bison, Bubalis, etc.) are native (Europe, N America, Asia, Africa), I'd think it could work. It would mean low stocking densities, and a ban on imported feed, growth hormones or prophylactic use of antibiotics and anthelminthics. And permission to allow non-saleable parts to be left out for vulture / scavenger feeding.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jurek View Post
I think there is a great potential here for preservation of semi-natural grassy wetlands and dry meadows in Central and Eastern Europe.

Mind you, however, grazing protects wildlife and cares of welfare of the cattle precisely because it is low intensity. So for many people it is a waste of resources.

My fear is, that in the name of protecting biodiversity from future climate change, they are likely to destroy the said biodiversity immediately.
Leaving aside Australia for the moment (which I can address down the track - though some of the same impacts result in the same outcomes) , it is interesting that you both raise low stocking densities /low intensity which I have taken to be pretty much the same thing.

In any modified system (ie. restricted movement and natural predatory pressure and behaviour free) that is problematic unless the densities are so low as to be virtually numbered as pets.

This is because in the absence of outside forces (predators, or herding into rotational grazing) herbivores will always go for their preferred plants first, as well as fixed watering points and shade - sometimes to local extinction of the most palatable/ vulnerable species, and this degrades the land, and biodiversity.

I can see stocking so low that things like ground nesting birds are not affected by direct contact conflict, but overall the ecosystem degrades. This is exactly the same in Australia, only because it is hot af the hard-hooved grazing animals also destroy the structure of the wetlands/ creeks/ alluvial plains too. Even native animals such as Kangaroos can become problematic in the absence of freely moving predators to move them on.

The essence of any Regenerative Agriculture (ie Carbon Sequestering and Soil Building and Moisture Retaining) is high density stocking (hence forcing domesticated herbivores to graze all species evenly no matter how palatable, providing mulching through trampling action, and fertilization with manure and urine) and rotational grazing managed by timed rest to suit the seasons and weather cycle conditions at the time, which mimics predatory pressure and allows soil and vegetative mass to build. Cutting edge thinking (as I've been detailing in the NSF thread) also combines wetland repair, soil sponge filling and multi-species pasture cropping into native grasslands and multi-species grazing (eg - cattle, sheep, goats, poultry, etc).

I think it is really difficult to combine ground nesting birds even with such advanced farming systems ......

I'm very interested if our learned birders think this can work - how it will work - and would it influence buying decisions/ premiums paid ?





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Old Monday 9th December 2019, 11:34   #8
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Exclamation

EDIT to the above post.

I suppose you could use things like single strand movable electric fences and piped water troughs etc to divide a larger low intensity/ stocking density area into smaller 'cells'. This woukd reduce some of the drawbacks of selective grazing and thus mimic rotational grazing and natural system grazing more, while remaining bird friendly in theory.

In practice it would require intimate knowledge of nesting/ foraging/sheltering locations and conditions favoured by all the different potential bird and other wildlife species managed with respect to the changing seasons and climate cycles to exclude grazing impact and animals from these areas prior and during.

The issue would be that it would still be a very low production system and require constant conservation /indigenous knowledge and management.

I'd be interested to know what exact production methods the 'Blue Nest Beef' group products use, and what bird 'constraints' they must abide by .........





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Old Tuesday 10th December 2019, 05:04   #9
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Wild herds

With yet another climate conference rolling around, the philosophies and work of Alan Savory are interesting in that presumably the birds we treasure evolved alongside these herds of wild herbivores and managed to breed and survive ok. The notion of 'Bird Friendly Beef' would have to address the same issues ......
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gzfWGDCi9qc





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Old Saturday 14th December 2019, 11:10   #10
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To my mind there is a world of difference between different types of meat production - Bellota ham in Spain from cork oak woodlands springs to mind as an example of a well-functioning system. Similarly I by beef online from places with huge amounts of natural rain so there is no deforestation or parching of the soil.

As a result I do believe it can be viable. the key issue must be to determine carrying capacity that allows for regeneration, and having done a little reading - especially the excellent Call of the Reed Warbler by Charles Massey.

Here's a video of Massey and Alan Savory in conversation about exactly this topic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ogskf1_Ud8

Cheers
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Old Saturday 14th December 2019, 19:10   #11
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Guess what- human unrestrained breeding is the issue... a new definition of human rights is long overdue.

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Old Saturday 14th December 2019, 20:56   #12
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Responsible ecological friendly beef is very much possible, but not at anywhere the amount of production necessary to meet the current global demand. You would have to significantly scale back production, and I suspect at ecologically viable levels beef would probably end up priced beyond the reach of a large chunk of the population.
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Old Saturday 14th December 2019, 21:56   #13
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Bizarrely I just came across this short video -

https://www.bbc.com/reel/playlist/su...?vpid=p079w8bm
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Old Sunday 15th December 2019, 06:21   #14
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Question

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Originally Posted by dantheman View Post
Bizarrely I just came across this short video -

https://www.bbc.com/reel/playlist/su...?vpid=p079w8bm
This video not playing for me - could you give the title /article/ another link etc? Thanks.



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Old Sunday 15th December 2019, 06:26   #15
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Guess what- human unrestrained breeding is the issue... a new definition of human rights is long overdue.

John
Something along the lines of Indigenous intergenerational, interspecies equitable, Mother Earth centred lore ?




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Old Sunday 15th December 2019, 06:45   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MKinHK View Post
To my mind there is a world of difference between different types of meat production - Bellota ham in Spain from cork oak woodlands springs to mind as an example of a well-functioning system. Similarly I by beef online from places with huge amounts of natural rain so there is no deforestation or parching of the soil.

As a result I do believe it can be viable. the key issue must be to determine carrying capacity that allows for regeneration, and having done a little reading - especially the excellent Call of the Reed Warbler by Charles Massey.

Here's a video of Massey and Alan Savory in conversation about exactly this topic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ogskf1_Ud8

Cheers
Mike
Nice article and the video is a good introduction

I've attended many of those places & faces. Some of the contrasts to their neighbours places are startling - though the tide is slowly turning as more and more come on board ......
You might also like this conversation with Charles Massey:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5xlc-5gnbaQ

The big issue to my mind is that even the best of these guys all combined is still only making the best of a relatively intensive production system on modified land. Where these farms are established on former Grassy Box Gum Woodlands for example, even though they are re-building soil carbon, there is still the issue of nutrient and mineral leaching where trees have been cleared. Adding 'vertical farming' and agroforestry/bush tucker to the mix would certainly help that.

Still, the best models I have seen are only reaching around ~80% biodiversity conservation .....

Anyone have any advance on that .... ?

I would also like to know what the % is on specific natural grasslands using 'bird friendly beef' type farming methods ..... ?
(I expected some of our American brothers and sisters may have chimed in by now :)






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Old Sunday 15th December 2019, 08:19   #17
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Originally Posted by Chosun Juan View Post
Something along the lines of Indigenous intergenerational, interspecies equitable, Mother Earth centred lore ?




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No.

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Old Sunday 15th December 2019, 09:05   #18
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Quote:
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This video not playing for me - could you give the title /article/ another link etc? Thanks.
Well, it's on the BBC website under 'Reel and then 'Environment'... 'How to stop cows producing methane'. I'm currently watching it whilst in France ...

It's a short BBC news film about the alternative small scale cattle ranching in Columbia based on forest rather than grassland, probably much as you mentioned upthread.


<iframe width="500" height="722" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" src="https://www.bbc.com/reel/embed/p079w8bk"></iframe>
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Old Sunday 15th December 2019, 09:33   #19
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80% is already a massive improvement on the active degradation of so many places. Given the momentum further improvements will surely come.
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Old Sunday 15th December 2019, 10:31   #20
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Arrow

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Originally Posted by dantheman View Post
Well, it's on the BBC website under 'Reel and then 'Environment'... 'How to stop cows producing methane'. I'm currently watching it whilst in France ...

It's a short BBC news film about the alternative small scale cattle ranching in Columbia based on forest rather than grassland, probably much as you mentioned upthread.


<iframe width="500" height="722" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" src="https://www.bbc.com/reel/embed/p079w8bk"></iframe>
Thanks - but my phone doesn't want to know about anything BBC video unfortunately. I did come across articles saying that UK beef industry members thought that the recent BBC program on meat (mainly high intensity America's production) was a hatchet job on them, and another one placing great hopes in seaweed suppliments to reduce methane emissions.

Much as in the Charles Massey video that Mike posted earlier - herbivores are starving for essential trace elements and nutrients (great cartoon of a cow straining through a fence to get a solitary thistle on the other side :). It stands to reason (I'm sure there is much research to back it up) that herbivores with more natural wider ranging diets from better environments have more efficient gut biomes that produce less waste methane.





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Old Sunday 15th December 2019, 10:35   #21
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Question

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Originally Posted by Chosun Juan View Post
Something along the lines of Indigenous intergenerational, interspecies equitable, Mother Earth centred lore ?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Farnboro John View Post
No.

John
What do you suggest then John?



Chosun


P.S. I should have stated the word egalitarian as well - buy you know, in Indigenous culture that's just taken as read.
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Old Sunday 15th December 2019, 10:58   #22
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What do you suggest then John?



Chosun


P.S. I should have stated the word egalitarian as well - buy you know, in Indigenous culture that's just taken as read.
Obviously, restrictions on breeding that must lead to reduction in human population. Since we all believe in equality, they must apply to all populations without discrimination. Have a nice day.

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Old Sunday 15th December 2019, 11:31   #23
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80% is already a massive improvement on the active degradation of so many places. Given the momentum further improvements will surely come.
Mike - yes I agree ~80% is better than the present situation headed for zero.

That 80% though requires ~30% of land on the property as reserved for conservation. About 20% could be 'crash grazed' for a few days at a time per year outside of core breeding and seeding times etc, however research shows that the less of that the better. That 80% is a bit of a hard is limit since it runs into things like required maximum distance between essential vegetation for connectivity for certain species that can't be met on the remaining 70% of the property.

An interesting conversation featuring both Charles Massy and Allan Savory on stage together, although even these gurus need to brush right up on their indigenous knowledge.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=K1_VZBaI2lU





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Old Sunday 15th December 2019, 14:05   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chosun Juan View Post
With yet another climate conference rolling around, the philosophies and work of Alan Savory are interesting in that presumably the birds we treasure evolved alongside these herds of wild herbivores and managed to breed and survive ok. The notion of 'Bird Friendly Beef' would have to address the same issues ......
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gzfWGDCi9qc





Chosun
I have just returned from Namibia, which has the same issues that Alan mentions. However in talking to some farmers there their solution is beyond those mentioned by Alan.

In Erongo, they have removed fences between farms and destocked the cattle entirely. In the place of the cattle, they have restocked with native species. This has increased the tonnage per hectare of meat, decreased the soil erosion and increased the resilience to drought.

Furthermore, tourist will pay to stay and see the animals, and they sell trophy rights for some animals.

Habitat has improved and farmers incomes have improved.

The meat is sold as generic "game" and is often superior in quality (taste & tenderness) to locally produced beef.
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Old Wednesday 18th December 2019, 10:39   #25
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I have just returned from Namibia, which has the same issues that Alan mentions. However in talking to some farmers there their solution is beyond those mentioned by Alan.

In Erongo, they have removed fences between farms and destocked the cattle entirely. In the place of the cattle, they have restocked with native species. This has increased the tonnage per hectare of meat, decreased the soil erosion and increased the resilience to drought.

Furthermore, tourist will pay to stay and see the animals, and they sell trophy rights for some animals.

Habitat has improved and farmers incomes have improved.

The meat is sold as generic "game" and is often superior in quality (taste & tenderness) to locally produced beef.
Native herbivores sounds like a win-win solution




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