The use of feedlots to finish beef cattle will likely grow in Brazil, home to the world’s largest commercial cattle herd, a survey by Dutch animal nutrition and health company DSM showed on Monday.
Driving the trend is the need to reduce pressure on the environment and the search for more efficient ways to raise and terminate livestock in Brazil, the world’s second biggest producer after the United States.
“The Americans have half of our cattle herd but produce more beef than Brazil,” Marcos Baruselli, DSM manager for feedlots businesses, told Reuters on the sidelines of a presentation to journalists.
The number of cows slaughtered in Brazil after spending 90 days in feedlots is estimated to have grown by 2% to about 5.3 million head in 2019, DSM data showed.
Baruselli said that trend will continue as strong environment-related pressure drives changes in the local model of production. In Brazil, ranchers traditionally clear land to raise animals in large pasture areas, but that can be inefficient, he said.
“When using feedlots to finish fattening the animal before termination, farmers do in 90 days what would take them a year in the pasture,” Baruselli said.
Strong demand for Brazilian beef, partly spurred by a rise in meat exports to China after a deadly pig disease disrupted supplies there, has boosted cattle prices in Brazil.
As cattle prices rise, the producer is encouraged to use more technology and put more animals in confinement, increasing ranchers’ gains as productivity increases.
DSM’s estimate for use of feedlots by Brazilian ranchers in 2020 will be released in February.
The company is betting big on Brazil, the largest global beef exporter, where it filed for registration of a new feed additive for cows that can cut methane emissions by around 30%.
Juliano Acedo, marketing director, said the company is on track to launch the product in the country by the end of next year.