9th October 2020
Cutting our greenhouse emissions by 10% may sound like a tall order, but if our cows can be enticed with a diet of seaweed, we can look forward to well-mannered bovines and a substantial reduction in methane gas production.
Methane is one of the most dangerous of greenhouse gases, roughly 25 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. Cows and, to a smaller extent, sheep are responsible for burping the methane equivalent of 3.1 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually. The movement to reduce the amount of meat in our diet has not only health benefits, but also huge environmental ramifications.
There is hope on the horizon that ‘beef without blame’ will soon hit our plates. The University of the Sunshine Coast has found a particular seaweed species called, Asparagopsis, which reduces the microbes in the cows’ stomachs that cause them to burp when they eat grass.
The University’s Seaweed Research Group leader Associate Professor Nick Paul is now looking at how to scale up production of this fluffy pink seaweed, so that every cow in Australia may have a taste.
“Seaweed is something that cows are known to eat. They will actually wander down to the beach and have a bit of a nibble,” Dr Paul said.
“When added to cow feed at less than two percent of the dry matter, this particular seaweed completely knocks out methane production. It contains chemicals that reduce the microbes in the cows’ stomachs that cause them to burp when they eat grass.”
If you would like to read more about the findings and progress of the seaweed research group, head to the University’s website page.