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Corn-Fed Cows Fart Less than Grazing Buffalo, Says Shady Journal

I don't spend much time arguing about climate change here—on Keystone XL, for instance, I can think of numerous reasons the tar sands pipeline will be bad for South Dakota (eminent domain, higher gasoline prices, bogus job numbers, ongoing pollution threat) before I even get to the acceleration of our need to lash our pontoon boats together at Harney Peak and sprout Kevin Costner gills.

But for those of you concerned about greenhouse gases, I happen upon a paper by SDSU dairy professor Alvaro Garcia that contends that today's beef and dairy cattle may not be producing more carbon dioxide and methane than North America's pre-colonial buffalo herd.

Methane emissions, precolonial buffalo herd and modern beef and dairy herds
TG = teragram (1 teragram = 1 billion kilograms ≈ 1.1 million tons). Source: Alvaro Garcia, "How Responsible Are Modern Cows for Greenhouse Gases" Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Vol. 2 No. 2, December 2013.
Carbon dioxide emissions, precolonial buffalo herd and modern dairy herd
TG = teragram (1 teragram = 1 billion kilograms ≈ 1.1 million tons). Source: Alvaro Garcia, "How Responsible Are Modern Cows for Greenhouse Gases" Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Vol. 2 No. 2, December 2013.

Note that one only finds our modern domesticated ruminants underfarting the mighty tatanka if one assumes the upper-end buffalo population estimate.

Dr. Garcia further contends that the corn our modern herds eat sequesters more carbon dioxide than the grasses old-time buffalo and cattle ate. He also contends that producing more milk per cow uses inputs more efficiently and results in less greenhouse gas output.

In other words, the mega-dairies Mike Rounds promoted with EB-5 visa investment are fighting climate change.

For what it's worth, the Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences is one of dozens of publications of the American Research Institute for Policy Development. It promises review of submitted papers in two weeks or less and publication within another two weeks, for a fee of $220. Four weeks is crazy-fast turnaround time for real research review and publication. University of Colorado Denver research librarian Jeffrey Beall questions ARIPD's credentials and includes ARIPD on his list of suspected predatory academic publishers. Beall found the peer review report issued for another ARIPD submission appallingly inadequate. ARIPD's address—40 Monticello St., Monticello, NY 12701—appears to be a residential apartment building.

So the journal publishing this information could be as shady as the information our Senator-Elect peddles. Read carefully!


  1. larry kurtz 2014.11.10

    How many of the bison sold by GFP from CSP will go to feedlots and be fed corn?

  2. mike from iowa 2014.11.10

    On the graph is Units TG. I assume the TG is for tear gas?

  3. jerry 2014.11.10

    The reason we even have the global warming questions are because of gas bags like Garcia to give cover to the Koch brothers along with other abusers of the environment. You can bet that next year and the following, we will see these same clowns go after the EPA to further drown us with higher sea water and other pollutants. Next they will now say that DDT is actually good for the environment as is Agent Orange.

  4. Ross 2014.11.10

    Good god. I'm sorry but I'll take grass-fed buffalo meat over GMO corn-raised feed lot beef any day of the year. I don't care how they will try to spin that. I'd rather breathe a healthy methane release from a buffalo rather than above said cows.
    Next they'll be trying to say it was a good thing that they drove the buffalo population to near extinction.
    If natural fed buffalo farts are contributing to climate change then we are truly screwed. The buffalo gave us life, the buffalo taketh away. #deathbybuffalofart

  5. Mike B 2014.11.10

    Savory's experiments with livestock have reversed degraded dry lands in Zimbabwe, Mexico, the Horn of Africa and Argentina, he said. He added that putting the same idea into motion in just half the world's troubled grasslands would result in bringing the planet back to preindustrial levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

  6. tara volesky 2014.11.10

    Corn fed cows and grazing buffalos? Seriously? What about 36th in the nation for child abuse?

  7. tara volesky 2014.11.10

    I miss typed. It should read we are up 36% in child abuse. People don't care about children in SD. Very sad. If they cared, DD would not be Governor.

  8. jerry 2014.11.10

    Great link Nike B, it also goes to show that if South Dakota would get into this type of grazing like it was when the buffalo were here in such huge numbers, we may solve some problems.

  9. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.11.10

    Buffalo farts or cow farts? Hahahahahahahaha!

    After all the crap of this political season, I'm all for learned discussions on bovine digestion. Thanks Cory.

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