Sustainability and Animal Farming: a Cost-Benefit Analysis

April 28, 2020 by Essay Writer


  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Efficiency livestock farming
  • 3 Plant-based diet.
  • 4 References


Animal farming has contributed majorly to the global changes in the climate. It is said that animal agriculture has contributed to 18% of gas emissions which causes greenhouse effect like nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide. The combination of the livestock and their byproducts leads to the production of the 51 % of the global greenhouse emission.

This type of agriculture is more dangerous when it comes to climate change. This calls for the mitigating measures to be taken to decrease the effect of animal farming on the climatic change. In order to know the best method of mitigating the risk of animal agriculture on the climate a cost-benefit analysis is undertaken (McMichael, 2007). This paper will discuss a cost benefit analysis of the two choices for mitigating the risk of animal agriculture. It will also come up with the best way to mitigate such risks and how one can reduce costs associated with the selected option.

Animal agriculture leads to changes in the climate in the following ways; first, animal farming causes deforestation. The forests in the United States are cleared for grazing animals and for the purpose of animal feeds growing. This leads to desertification due to exposing of the land and lack of enough animal as forests attract rains. This contributes to climate change. Again, animal farming leads to the consumption of more water for drinking and for planting animal feeds which can be used to feed pigs, chicken, and cows. The more consumption of water leads to drying of the water sources which causes climate change with time. Animal agriculture leads to occupying of the more spaces where they lead to desertification of the land (Gonzalez, 2011).The degradation of the land makes it difficult for plants to grow leading to accumulation of the greenhouse gases which causes climate change.

As a result of the risk of the animal agriculture, the two divergent options for mitigating the risk of animal farming have been applied in the world. These options include; developing alternatives to sources of food like plant-based diet and making animal agriculture more efficient that is, making it more intensive or extensive (McMichael, 2007).

Efficiency livestock farming

Efficient livestock farming is a process of adding value to the livestock where the inputs used in the farming will be less as compared to the costs. It involves making sure the inputs or the process of keeping animals will have more, benefits than to the costs which will be incurred. It involves using the method of livestock keeping which works best for the earth climate, community and individuals. This method involves using the techniques of the farming that reduces the economic and the environmental costs and improves the gains which are associated with quality and quantity food production. First, the animals can be fed with less human food. The amount of the human food given to animals can be reduced or avoided. This will enhance the grains to be consumed by the people and less land will be cleared for, growing animal food. Animals will alternatively be grazed at the marginalized areas like around the mountainsides and in the low lying wet grasslands. This will lead to reserving of the more fields for the purpose of growing human food crops hence reducing the deforestation hence climate changes (Niggli, 2009). Animals should also be fed from the waste products of the food grains which helps to prevent wastage as they can feed on the fiber of the crops. This will help to reduce the pollution associated with such waste products.

Again, the farmers should keep or raise regionally appropriate animals depending on their locality. This will cost the farmers less as compared to keeping exotic breeds which do not withstand the climate of some areas. Where the farmer is forced to incur more expenses to cut the fodder and give the animals in the stall. Keeping of regionally based breeds will avoid extra expenses as animals will be grazed in pasture areas. This will reduce the deforestation since there is no need of clearing the forests to plant-animal feeds (McMichael, 2007). In long term it will contribute to a reduction of the greenhouse emissions since the presence of the forest will increase rainfall and reduce carbon dioxide in the air.

Farmers should adopt proper supplements to the animals’feeds. Some supplements enhance the animal to consume energy and nitrogen in a more efficient manner. This leads to animal generating a lot of milk and meat and low waste products like gases that cause greenhouse effect and ammonia. The production of the less nitrogenous product will lead to less accumulation of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere where it leads to a reduction of the climate change. This method of farming is more economical and leads to increased animal health and is also friendly to the environment (Niggli, 2009). Example of such animal supplement is the clover.

Efficient farming methods lead to good health among the animals and people. In this method of farming livestock animals are kept health producing health food products which cannot lead to poor health among the individual consumers. The keeping of the healthy animals will lead to the more yields which will be economical on the side of the farmers (McMichael, 2007).The costs will be reduced by keeping animals healthy and on the other hand benefits will be increased.

In the efficient farming method, the cost and benefit analysis should be undertaken. The cost of having an intensive farming method is associated with the production of the human-induced production of the greenhouse gases which affects the climate change. Despite such negative impacts, the intensive livestock farming has more benefits; a sustained and well-managed livestock farming will lead to increase in the biodiversity. This will involve an increase in the plant and animals in the environment. The animal will produce manure which enhances the growth of the plants, less land will be cleared as an animal will feed on pastures and no growth of the animal feeds. The farming will lead to maintenance of the ecosystem and improve the carbon dioxide capture by plants and soils. The animals will be a source of the manure which will be used in farming instead of the using chemical fertilizers which produce greenhouse gases. Farm animal’s offers hides and skins, mohair, traction and the gas energy which is energy from the dung (Niggli, 2009).Then the efficient livestock farming methods are important since they are friendly economically and to the environment and health of the people.

Plant-based diet.

This is the diet which involves the consumption of the food from the plants without animal products. This type of diet is used as an option to mitigate the risk associated with the consumption of the animal products. Emphasizing the use of the plant-based diet will mean that animal farming will not be undertaken in the society as there is no need for their product. The use of the plant-based diet has a lot of benefits to individuals. Most of the diseases like diabetes and heart attack, stroke, colon cancer and cardiovascular diseases are associated with consumption of the animal product (Gonzalez, 2011). Therefore using plant-based diet will reduce the risk of suffering from food-related diseases.

Again, apart from plant-based diet being beneficial to health, they are also environmentally friendly as they don’t lead to increase of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere which causes the climate change. A plant-based diet is efficient in the production of the proteins as they don’t need to be converted as it is in the animal protein which has to involve alt of conversions. Therefore the use of the plant-based diet is important and best in the reduction of the impact of the climatic change and environment since plant-based foods are involved in the consumption of the less land. The land used in growing of crops for human consumption is less as compared to land used for growing animal feeds and being occupied by the animals. This leads low deforestation hence plants will be available reducing greenhouse impact. Less water used in the production of human food as compared to water consumed in the animal foods hence preserving water sources. Less energy, pesticides, and fertilizer are used in the production of food consumption as compared to animal product production. This means plant-based diet is healthier, economically and environmentally beneficial (Niggli, 2009).The benefits of the plant-based diet as a way of mitigating risks associated with animal farming are more when compared to benefits of using the efficient farming methods.

In a comparison of plant-based diet and efficient livestock farming method of mitigating risk associated with animal farming, it has found that; efficient farming method does not prevent food-related diseases like heart attack, colon cancer, and diabetes while the plant-based diet is involved in controlling and reducing such diseases. The production of the plant food product requires less land, less water, fewer pesticides, and fewer fertilizers as compared to the efficient production of the animal products. This means plant-based diet option is economical (Niggli, 2009). Lastly efficient animal production methods leads to the production of the greenhouse gases which is detrimental to the environment whereas production of plant-based diet does not produce gases to the atmosphere and therefore it is environmentally friendly meaning it cannot lead to climate change.

In my opinion, I favor plant-based diet option for mitigating the risk associated with the animal agriculture. This is because of the following reasons; first, it is friendly to human health since consumption of plant product will prevent some diseases like diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer. Secondly, production of the food product makes use of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and nitrogen gas hence preventing greenhouse effect which leads to climate change. In addition, plant food production leads to use of the less land, less water, fewer pesticides and fertilizers making it have less impact on the environment (McMichael, 2007).This can be witnessed in the production of the legumes like Beans and Peas where they require limited fertilizer for the nitrogen cycle to fix carbon dioxide into the soil.

The cost associated with the plant-based diet option can be reduced. Farmers should reduce the use of the artificial or chemical fertilizers which are expensive and leads to the creation of the greenhouse gases. Instead, the farmers should use the organic manure like composite manure which is cheap and has no negative an impact on the environment. The farmers should plant regionally based products which can do best in their environment without using more chemicals which are costly and they contribute to a greenhouse effect (Gonzalez, 2011). This will make this option to more economical and protect the environment hence preventing climatic change. Natural methods of controlling pest should be used to avoid the use of the pesticides which affect the environment and are costly.

The recommendation on the use of the plant-based diet as the best option of mitigating risks associated with the livestock farming should be communicated to the scientists, elected officials and the general public using an appropriate method like journals and media. The communication will inform the general public on the importance of using plant-based diet which has no negative impact on the environment as it uses less land, water, fertilizers and energy as compared to efficient livestock farming method. It will also lead to controlling diseases like heart diseases and diabetes (Gonzalez, 2011). Lastly, it will be economical as it will use fewer resources. Therefore, people should use a plant-based diet to mitigate the risk associated with the livestock farming. This will be for the purpose of preventing climate change in the society.


And per unit greenhouse gas emissions: potential contribution of diet choices to climate change mitigation. Food Policy,? 36(5), 562-570. energy,climate change, and health. The lancet,? 370(9594), 1253-1263. Gonzalez, A. D., Frostell, B., & Carlsson-Kanyama, A. (2011). Protein efficiency per unit energy Landbau,? 141, 32-33. McMichael, A. J., Powles, J. W., Butler, C. D., & Uauy, R. (2007). Food, livestock production, Mitigation and adaptation potential of sustainable farming systems. –kologie & Niggli, U., Flie??bach, A., Hepperly, P., & Scialabba, N. (2009).

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