Cows normally produce a lot of methane, a greenhouse gas, which is one reason eating less beef and dairy helps the environment. Less demand equals fewer cows and a less greenhouse gas. As some will not change dietary habits, this discovery is very interesting. Just a small amount of the sea weed Asparagopsis reduces cow’s methane emissions by 99%.
Researchers want to mass-farm a native Queensland seaweed, which stops cows burping methane, in a bid to help cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
A previous study by the CSIRO discovered adding a small amount of Asparagopsis to the cow’s diet reduced the amount of the gas the animal produced by up to 99 per cent.
It found the chemicals in the algae diminished the microbes in cows stomachs which caused them to pass air.
Associate Professor Nicholas Paul from the University of the Sunshine Coast said if enough of the algae was grown it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Australia by 10 per cent.
“When added to cow feed at less than 2 per cent of the dry matter this particular seaweed completely knocks out methane,” he said.
Are cows really a problem?
A dairy cow can produce up to 400 litres of methane per day! When burned, this is enough energy to power a small fridge for a day.
How much methane does a cow produce?A single cow, on average, releases 70 to 120 kgs of methane per year. Now, it is important to remember that we’re talking about a single cow. Worldwide, there are approximately 1.5 billion cows and bulls, each emitting that much methane. That’s a lot of extremely harmful greenhouse gas! Methane is 23 times more harmful than carbon dioxide.
Cows emit a massive amount of methane through belching, with a lesser amount through flatulence. Statistics vary regarding how much methane the average dairy cow expels. Some experts say 100 liters to 200 liters a day (or about 26 gallons to about 53 gallons), while others say it’s up to 500 liters (about 132 gallons) a day. In any case, that’s a lot of methane, an amount comparable to the pollution produced by a car in a day.
Growing and feeding this sea weed to all cows in the world seems like a great thing. It may even make their lives a bit better.
Now if only we had a sea weed gasoline additive that stopped 99% of car, truck, bus, plane and ship emissions.