Want to cut greenhouse gases? Feed your cows oregano!
Cow belches, a major source of greenhouse gases, could be decreased by an unusual feed supplement developed by a Penn State dairy scientist.
In a series of laboratory experiments and a live animal test, an oregano-based supplement not only decreased methane emissions in dairy cows by 40 percent, but also improved milk production, according to Alexander Hristov, an associate professor of dairy nutrition…
“Cattle are actually a major producer of methane gas and methane is a significant greenhouse gas,” Hristov said. “In fact, worldwide, livestock emits 37 percent of anthropogenic methane.”
Anthropegenic methane is methane produced by human activities, such as agriculture…
Methane production is a natural part of the digestive process of cows and other ruminants, such as bison, sheep and goats. When the cow digests food, bacteria in the rumen, the largest of the four-chambered stomach, break the material down intro nutrients in a fermentation process. Two of the byproducts of this fermentation are carbon dioxide and methane.
“Any cut in the methane emissions would be beneficial,” Hristov said.
Experiments revealed another benefit of the gas-reducing supplement. It increased daily milk production by nearly three pounds of milk for each cow during the trials. The researcher anticipated the higher milk productivity from the herd.
“Since methane production is an energy loss for the animal, this isn’t really a surprise,” Hristov said. “If you decrease energy loss, the cows can use that energy for other processes, such as making milk.”
My Italian grandmother always said everything smelled better around the cows she grew up with in the Italian Tyrol. Guess it was the wild oregano in their pastures, eh?