Cows don’t have to be a scourge to grasslands Beef has become one of the central villains of the climate crisis. Many environmentalists limit their cow consumption or eat entirely from lower levels of the food chain. But though it’s true that global figures on beef’s carbon hoofprint are worrisome, they perhaps also gloss over the complex system that these cows are a part of. There are many, many ways of producing burgers and steaks—and some ranchers argue cattle can actually be a force for good. In fact, cattle might play a surprising role in mitigating climate change. If done right, grazing can heal grasslands and enable them to stow away more carbon from the atmosphere, even becoming carbon-negative systems. At Ranney Ranch in central New Mexico, the cattle herd moves between about 33 smaller pastures within a larger 18,000-acre ranch on rocky mesa grassland. The cows graze down one pasture at a time for a period of a few days to three weeks in what’s called adaptive multi-paddock (AMP) grazing. Then, the ranchers move the ruminants to the next patch, and the just-grazed area has at least six months to rest. In the 16 years since she adopted […]

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