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…
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.”