UC Davis researchers study ways to reduce methane in cow belches

[USA, Australia] The biggest question in the fight against global warming may not be whether humans can wean themselves off fossil fuels, but whether farmers can control their incessantly burping cows.

Researchers at UC Davis said last week that they may have found a superfood that will reduce the amount of methane cattle emit when they belch, which they do a lot, collectively spewing a huge amount of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.

Pulverized seaweed from Australia will be added to the feed at UC Davis.

The solution, said Ermias Kebreab, a professor of animal sciences at UC Davis, is a touch of seaweed mixed with molasses and stirred into the feed. The seaweed, he said, inhibits an enzyme that contributes to methane production in the gut.

“We’ve seen a dramatic decrease in methane emissions, well over 30 percent … by feeding about 1 percent of the diet as seaweed,” Kebreab said from the UC Davis dairy barn, where he and his colleagues have been testing the ocean delicacy on 12 Holstein cows for the last month and a half. “This could help California’s dairy farmers meet new methane-emission standards and sustainably produce the dairy products we need to feed the world.”

California legislators recently adopted regulations requiring dairy farmers and other producers to cut methane emissions 40 percent by 2030. That will require controls on what substances the 1.8 million dairy cows in the state disgorge when they belch.

“Since much of a dairy’s methane emissions come from the animal itself, nutrition can play a big role in finding solutions,” said Kebreab.

 

View original article at: UC Davis researchers study ways to reduce methane in cow belches

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