Ag Today May 25, 2018

Seaweed Could Help Farmers Tame Methane Emissions From Cow Burps

Ezra David Romero
Thursday, May 24, 2018 | Sacramento, CA | Capital Public Radio

Cows don’t usually eat seaweed. But researchers at UC Davis want to change that in an effort to get the animals to burp smaller amounts of greenhouse gases.

Most cows on the campus dairy are fed the usual mixture of ingredients like alfalfa and corn. But twice a day a special set of a dozen cows are given the same feed, just mixed with a small dose of crushed seaweed and molasses to sweeten the salty mix.

“They are belching less,” says UC Davis animal science professor Ermias Kebreab. “What we see so far is a dramatic reduction. In fact, I asked my graduate student make sure these numbers are real.”

Kebreab says they’re burping about 30 percent less methane. He says 95 percent of the methane cows emit are from burps, the rest are flatulence.The reduction could be a big deal for California dairy farmers and other producers that are required to cut methane emissions by 40 percent by 2030.

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