Cows are one of the most flatulent creatures on Earth.
To be precise, each one produces the equivalent of three tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
But, according to experts, their greenhouse gas emissions could be unnecessarily high – because of the diet they’re fed by competitive cattle farmers.
Co-founder and managing director of Switzerland’s Agolin, Kurt Schaller, told Reuters its formula can reduce that by 10 per cent.
And, in turn, this could save the environment by tackling global warming.
Food for thought: Gerald Grand, a staff member at Agolin, works on a mixture of components in Biere, Switzerland
‘We sell our mixture for around 1 million cows per year… There are 25-28 million cows in the European Union, so it is a big percentage,’ he said.
‘That represents 300,000 tonnes of CO2 reduction today.’
The United Nations says livestock farming alone is responsible for up to 18 percent of the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
Nearly a quarter of that comes from bovine flatulence.
‘The burps for the cows – it is more burps than farts – contribute about … 4 percent of (all) greenhouse gas emissions,’ said Anne Mottet, livestock development officer at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
This is because cow digestion relies on millions of microbes in their guts that process and ferment high-fibre foods.
Better? Vow emissions could be unnecessarily high – because of the diet they’re fed by competitive cattle farmers
Fact: The United Nations says livestock farming alone is responsible for up to 18 percent of the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming
It allows the cows to eat tough foods like grass, but produces a lot of methane.
Speaking to MailOnline about the new formula, Agolin Ruminant – which is administered at one gram per day with a cow’s usual feed – the company’s commercial director, Michael Roe, explained that it acts on bacteria in the animal’s rumen: a specialised stomach which ferments food prior to digestion.
This allows dietary components such as starch and complex carbohydrates to be used for production, rather than methanogenesis – AKA the production of methane.
In turn, this causes less flatulence and eructation – or burping.
Agolin says field trials have shown its product also helps increase milk yield and feed efficiency, which are benefits that farmers can more easily measure.
‘A farmer does not get a cent if he reduces his methane production,’ said technical director Beatrice Zweifel.
‘That is starting to change a little bit, however, for example in California, where farmers must reduce their methane production by 40 per cent.’
COULD FEEDING COWS SEAWEED CUT GREENHOUSE GASSES?
Scientists believe feeding seaweed to dairy cows may make cattle more climate-friendly.
Researchers found a cow’s methane emissions were reduced by more than 30 per cent when they ate the ocean algae.
In research conducted by the University of California, in August, small amounts of it were mixed into the animals’ feed and sweetened with molasses to disguise the salty taste.
As a result, methane emissions dropped by almost a third.
‘I was extremely surprised when I saw the results,’ said Professor Ermias Kebreab, the animal scientist who led the study.
‘I wasn’t expecting it to be that dramatic with a small amount of seaweed.’
The team now plans to conduct a further six-month study of a seaweed-infused diet in beef cattle, starting this month.