Sustainability of British Farming

At John Gilmour Butchers, we love championing our local farmers and supporting the best quality meats in Scotland and the U.K. We often get asked about the environmental impact of farming, specifically cattle farming – so we wanted to share the facts about the sustainability of British farming. Cattle farming does produce emissions that contribute to climate change, however, the farming industry is well on its way to significantly reducing this impact.

This information is taken from this excellent, well researched article from Countryside Online. If you wish to find this article or are looking for more detailed information, please click here.

Soil and Biodiversity Benefits

There are environmental benefits to farming. One of the main benefits of livestock farming is soil fertility.

“Livestock plays an important role in maintaining and enhancing the soil used to grow crops too. The introduction of grass and clover leys and livestock into arable crop rotations is beneficial to soil health and fertility, with manure from grazing livestock helping to boost soil organic matter.

Leicestershire arable farmer Phil Jarvis has introduced four-year grass and clover leys and shorter two-year herbal leys which are grazed by both his neighbour’s sheep and his own Leicester Longwools. This regenerative approach helps build soil fertility, health and combat grass weeds while using some of the current agri-environment options in Countryside Stewardship” (Countryside Online).

Further, livestock farming also contributes to increased biodiversity: “Land abandonment poses one of the greatest threats to biodiversity as it removes the brakes on succession. Most open landscapes in the UK will revert from grassland to scrub and, ultimately, to woodland as large plants reach for the light and outcompete many smaller species. Grazing and disturbance by livestock – particularly by native breeds that can outwinter - ‘re-sets’ this ecological clock, allowing a high diversity of these valuable early-succession flowers to thrive in open sunlight. Dr Trevor Dines, Plantlife Botanical Specialist – from Countryside Online

What the industry is doing

Many industrial bodies and farms are adding natural additives to cattle feed in order to significantly reduce methane emissions. In fact, a few months ago, we discussed the addition of red seaweed to cattle feed, a practice that based on studies by the University of California and others, reduces methane emissions from cattle by up to 85%. To read more about this practice and how our partner farmers were involved, click here


British farming has one of the highest welfare standards in the world. British farming has one of the lowest antibiotic use statistics in Europe, and is one of only four countries to receive the highest level in the Animal Protection Index. Britain hopes to be an example for the rest of the world of how farming can be done sustainably, while treating livestock fairly.

To read more about the sustainability of British farming, read this article by Countryside Online.