Why Climate-Friendly Beef Is No Bull

It’s no secret that when it comes to the environment, cattle farming gets a pretty bad rap. But is there such a thing as planet-friendly beef? You betcha
By Leanne Archer

The cows at Five Founders have been happily grazing on the same grasslands for over 140 years. That in itself should allow the company bragging rights for its long-term sustainable land management. 

But it’s Five Founders’ status as Australia’s first certified carbon-neutral beef company, along with their 400,000ha nature refuge dedicated to the protection of rare flora and fauna, that’s really showing cattle farming and saving the planet can go hand in hand. 

“We’ve been doing this for 140 years and our pastures are just as fertile today because we haven’t deteriorated them,” says James Carson, General Manager of Sales at Five Founders and NAPCo, who manage a massive herd of 200,000 cattle across millions of hectares in Queensland and the Northern Territory. 

Zero-carbon hoof print 

It was in April 2019 that Five Founders amped up its eco credentials by becoming Australia’s first certified carbon-neutral cattle company. 

This involved calculating the company’s entire carbon footprint – starting from where the animals were born, all the way through the supply chain and processing, to customer delivery within Australia and around the world. 

As the name suggests, carbon-neutral beef has a zero-carbon footprint. It means all carbon emissions associated with the beef’s production are offset. Five Founders achieves this through methods including the purchasing of carbon credits, improving soil and pasture management, and the transition from fossil fuels to more sustainable energy sources, to name just a few. 

Meanwhile, the company is on the verge of slashing emissions even further, with an eventual goal of becoming carbon positive. And this includes an exciting development that’s right on the nose…

As the name suggests, carbon-neutral beef has a zero-carbon footprint. It means all carbon emissions associated with the beef’s production are offset.

Curbing the burping

James explains the big game-changer will be new feed supplements that reduce methane emissions from cattle due to their belching and flatulence. Methane is “by far” the biggest emitter of carbon in the industry and experts are close to decreasing the problem through diet. 

“We’re currently working with all major manufacturers in Australia to source feed supplements that reduce the amount of methane the animals emit,” he says. “We’ve got pretty exciting news to come out within the next three months in this very space.”

Playdates for livestock?  

Five Founders is also known for its commitment to animal welfare and care. Their whole-of-life approach means they look after their cattle from birth all the way through to processing – which includes keeping them with their “mates” for life. 

“We try to keep them within groups they’re common with – their mates essentially – and with that comes positive benefits,” says James. “It’s like sending your kids to childcare together.”

And happy cows make for happy eating. “They’re not stressed out and their meat is far more tender because of this.”

Down to you

Five Founders’ dedication to sustainable farming, animal welfare and ethical partnerships, including with Harris Farm Markets, is motivated by you – the conscious consumer. And happily, their product is available at HFM.

“Our consumers want sustainably produced food including beef,” says James. “We’ve been supplying to Harris Farms for two years and the reason for this is their customers, themselves as a company, and us as a supplier, are all aligned. We are all committed to providing the consumer with the best product from an eating-quality perspective, and also giving them confidence that what they’re consuming has been bred and raised in the most sustainable way possible.”

So, where’s the beef?

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