Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unusual feed supplement could ease gassy cows, reduce their greenhouse gas emissions

Date:
September 8, 2010
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
Cow belches, a major source of greenhouse gases, could be decreased by an unusual feed supplement developed by a dairy scientist.

Cow belches, a major source of greenhouse gases, could be decreased by an unusual feed supplement developed by a Penn State dairy scientist.
Credit: iStockphoto/Fabian Rothe

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.

The natural methane-reduction supplement could lead to a cleaner environment and more productive dairy operations.

"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.

Compared to carbon dioxide, methane has 23 times the potential to create global warming, Hristov said. The Environmental Protection Agency bases the global warming potential of methane on the gas's absorption of infrared radiation, the spectral location of its absorbing wavelengths and the length of time methane remains in the atmosphere.

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."

Hristov said that finding a natural solution for methane reduction in cattle has taken him approximately six years. Natural methane reduction measures are preferable to current treatments, such as feed antibiotics.

Hristov first screened hundreds of essential oils, plants and various compounds in the laboratory before arriving at oregano as a possible solution. During the experiments, oregano consistently reduced methane without demonstrating any negative effects.

Following the laboratory experiments, Hristov conducted an experiment to study the effects of oregano on lactating cows at Penn State's dairy barns. He is currently conducting follow-up animal trials to verify the early findings and to further isolate specific compounds involved in the suppression of methane.

Hristov said that some compounds that are found in oregano, including carvacrol, geraniol and thymol, seem to play a more significant role in methane suppression.

Identifying the active compounds is important because pure compounds are easier to produce commercially and more economical for farmers to use.

"If the follow-up trials are successful, we will keep trying to identify the active compounds in oregano to produce purer products," said Hristov.

Hristov has filed a provisional patent for this work.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Penn State. "Unusual feed supplement could ease gassy cows, reduce their greenhouse gas emissions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100907113135.htm>.
Penn State. (2010, September 8). Unusual feed supplement could ease gassy cows, reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100907113135.htm
Penn State. "Unusual feed supplement could ease gassy cows, reduce their greenhouse gas emissions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100907113135.htm (accessed August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Super Healthful Fruits and Vegetables: Which Are Best?

Super Healthful Fruits and Vegetables: Which Are Best?

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) We all know that it is important to eat our fruits and vegetables but do you know which ones are the best for you? Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bad Memories Turn Good In Weird Mouse Brain Study

Bad Memories Turn Good In Weird Mouse Brain Study

Newsy (Aug. 27, 2014) MIT researchers were able to change whether bad memories in mice made them anxious by flicking an emotional switch in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do Couples Who Smoke Weed Together Stay Together?

Do Couples Who Smoke Weed Together Stay Together?

Newsy (Aug. 27, 2014) A study out of University at Buffalo claims couples who smoke marijuana are less likely to experience intimate partner violence. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Panda Might Have Faked Pregnancy To Get Special Treatment

Panda Might Have Faked Pregnancy To Get Special Treatment

Newsy (Aug. 27, 2014) A panda in China showed pregnancy symptoms that disappeared after two months of observation. One theory: Her pseudopregnancy was a ploy for perks. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins