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date: 31 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Beef production is considered to have a large water footprint, with values ranging from 3.3 to 75,000 L H20/kg. The water consumption in beef production is primarily associated with feed, estimated to be about 98%, with other requirements representing less than 1%. However, beef production is a complex system where cattle are often raised in different areas using a range of resources over their lifetime. This complexity is demonstrated using three countries with very different environments and production systems, namely Australia, Brazil, and Kenya. To achieve efficient water use in beef systems, and food systems more generally, a classification system that reflects how animals are managed, slaughtered, and processed is required. Methods for assessing water use in livestock systems, from production to consumption, need to be standardized, whilst also including the alternative uses, multiple uses, and benefits of a certain resource in a specific location.

Keywords: beef production, water footprint, water consumption, ruminant systems, livestock systems

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