The water-economy nexus of beef produced from different cattle breeds

Thumbnail Image
Mare, Frikkie Alberts
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The sustainable use of water, or any other natural resource for that matter, is not the only factor that should be considered in terms of sustainability, as social equity and economic prosperity are equally important. The objective of this study was to analyse different breeds of beef cattle, following the same production method, in terms of their water footprint and economic value addition for different links in the value chain. A bottom-up approach was applied to identify the breed with the best economic water consumption in terms of beef production. The results indicated that the total WF/kg carcass revealed notable differences between the various breeds. The Bonsmara had the smallest WF/kg carcass, while the Limousin had the largest. The WF/kg of beef for the different cuts (rib eye, topside, and flank) showed large variations between the breeds and between the different cuts of beef from the same breed. In terms of the economic water consumption, the Angus consumed between 4% and 25% less water per rand of economic value addition than the Bonsmara, Simmentaler, Simbra, Limousin, Afrikaner, and Brahman. When the economic water consumption of the individual value links was considered, it was found that Bonsmara had the best figures for cow–calf production, while the Limousin and Simmentaler were the best in terms of feedlot finishing and processing, respectively. These contradicting results showed the importance of a bottom-up approach to ensure that the fallacy of division does not occur and, secondly, that possible problem areas in the value chain are identified and addressed separately.
Water footprint, Economic water consumption, Cattle breeds, Value chain analysis
Mare, F. A. (2021). The water-economy nexus of beef produced from different cattle breeds. Water, 13, 2513.