New additives that do not affect milk production can reduce cow methane emissions by about 25%

One of the main sources of methane, a greenhouse gas, is cows, so more and more scientists are studying how to adjust their diet to protect the environment. A team of scientists from Pennsylvania State University found that simply adding a seaweed supplement to cow feed could reduce methane emissions by about 25 percent without affecting milk production.

New additives that do not affect milk production can reduce cow methane emissions by about 25%

Image: DSM

New additives that do not affect milk production can reduce cow methane emissions by about 25%

IMAGE: Hristov Research Group/Penn State

New additives that do not affect milk production can reduce cow methane emissions by about 25%

IMAGE: Hristov Research Group/Penn State

When cows digest food, the microbes in their stomachs break down the material and produce methane, which accumulates and then emits it in the form of hiccups. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, livestock account for 14.5 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, and almost half of that is methane. Therefore, if we can improve livestock emissions, it will greatly reduce the greenhouse effect.

To study reducing methane emissions from cows, the team successfully developed a feed additive made from a mixture of tropical leaves, pink seaweed and fish oil in the form of 3-NOP.

Study author Alex Hristov said: “3-NOP is the only substance that significantly reduces intestinal methane in cattle and has no unacceptable effect on milk production or quality. In recent years, we have tried a number of methods, including essential oils, toys and seaweed, which are either long-term ineffective or require further study. “

New additives that do not affect milk production can reduce cow methane emissions by about 25%

New additives that do not affect milk production can reduce cow methane emissions by about 25%

New additives that do not affect milk production can reduce cow methane emissions by about 25%

New additives that do not affect milk production can reduce cow methane emissions by about 25%

The 3-NOP compound inhibits the activity of an enzyme in the stomach of a cow tumor, which is key in the methane production process. Cows that ate 3-NOP compounds had 26 percent less methane emissions per day than regular diet-controlled cows. In addition, it does not affect their lactation properties or the performance of the milk produced, and will improve feed efficiency per unit of milk production. And because it is a relatively inexpensive compound, the researchers hope it will be widely absorbed worldwide.

The study was published in the Journal of Dairy Science.

Source: Pennsylvania State University