According to the United Nations, food production must more than double by 2050 to meet the demand of the world’s growing population. Beef consumption is also expected to increase from 60 million to 130 million tons by 2050. Nonetheless, at least 1 billion people still experience inadequate intake of protein, and 165 million of these individuals are children. Resources for food and agriculture production will also become more limited as the planet becomes more populated and urban areas expand. Therefore, agricultural efficiency must increase dramatically during the next decades to attain global food demand while maintaining ecological stewardship and proper use of limited natural resources
Increasing beef cattle production in tropical and subtropical environments to feed the world
At least 70% of the increase in beef production required to meet the growing demand is expected from subtropical and tropical regions of the planet, including southern US, Mexico, Central/South America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. These regions contain > 70% of the world’s cattle population (Figure 1), predominately Bos indicus-influenced breeds with diets based on forages and agricultural by-products. In the US, approximately 45% of beef cows are located in the southern and southeastern states, where B. indicus-influenced cattle are located and tropical/subtropical climates predominate. However, B. indicus-influenced herds reared in subtropical and tropical regions are often managed using practices developed and validated for B. taurus breeds in temperate environments.
To address this critical gap in knowledge, the Texas A&M – Department of Animal Science established an Area of Excellence in Cattle Adapted to Tropical and Subtropical Environments (CATSE). Our goal is to identify the biological requirements, and develop management practices tailored to cattle reared in subtropical and tropical climates. These efforts will not only optimize beef production efficiency in these regions, but also contribute toward global agricultural sustainability and food security. A multitude of research, educational, and outreach activities aligned with CATSE were developed, established, and are being planned by our faculty members, research staff, and students. These efforts encompass a variety of discipline, with activities conducted not only in Texas, but also across the US and the globe.