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Assessing feed security for beef production within livestock-intensive regions
Agricultural Systems  (IF5.37),  Pub Date : 2021-12-20, DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2021.103348
M.R.C. Cordeiro, G.F. Mengistu, S.J. Pogue, G. Legesse, K.E. Gunte, A.M. Taylor, K.H. Ominski, K.A. Beauchemin, E.J. McGeough, M. Faramarzi, T.A. McAllister


Feed insecurity caused by increases in animal inventories and variability in feed production due to climate change is an emerging issue in livestock production. Regional feed transfers are one strategy used to address local feed shortages and minimize feed insecurity.


This study assessed the importance of regional feed transfers for beef production in Alberta, Canada, by estimating regional feed production and demand based on livestock (beef, dairy, poultry, swine, sheep, bison, and horses) numbers and categories, enabling calculation of regional deficits and surpluses.


Transfers from crop-producing regions in Alberta were estimated to address potential feed shortages for beef production in 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016. The analysis included feeds that could be cost-effectively transported, namely, barley grain, wheat grain, grass hay, and grass-legume hay. Feed demands of beef and other livestock were estimated at the county level and aggregated to seven land-use framework (LUF) regions. Feed balances available for beef production were estimated for the four feeds based on crop yields in each year. Feed transfers from surplus to deficit LUF regions were hierarchically estimated based on transport distance. Feed inputs from outside the province were not considered in the analysis due to the lack of data on cross-boundary imports.


The average feed demand for beef production between 2001 and 2016 in Alberta was 2.71, 0.68, 2.21, and 1.95 M tonnes of dry matter (DM) for barley grain, wheat grain, grass hay, and grass-legume hay, respectively. The results indicated that the South Saskatchewan region of Alberta had the greatest feed deficit and required transfers from other regions in all years. Feed balances were consistently negative in this region between 2001 and 2016, with barley grain ranging from −97.2% to −34.2% (deficit), wheat grain from −31.4% (deficit) to 19.3% (surplus), grass hay from −147.2% (deficit) to 1.6% (surplus), and native grass-legume hay from −167.7% to −15.7% (deficit). Unmet demand of barley grain (2006), grass hay (2001) and grass-legume hay (2001, 2006) at the provincial level were likely met by importing these feedstuffs from outside of the province.


The methodology presented here can be adapted to other intensive livestock producing regions to assess feed security issues associated with climate change and devise effective feed transfer strategies and provide information that can be used for future consideration of the regional impact of these practices on greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity, as well as other environmental indices.