Farmer's Little Helpers: A Pill To Cut Down On Cow Farting


Anyone who has driven through dairy country has noticed that cows out to pasture generally all face in a similar direction. We always thought that bovine behavior had a practical basis...if you were a cow that is...such that if your neighbor let fly, you would be better able to hear trouble coming and "hoof it". Now, we see that some German agricultural researchers may have developed a novel means of climate change mitigation (Bovin-o?) which, if it has commercial success, may allow cows to align themselves in a more casual manner.Via the Guardian Cow farts (methane gas) are responsible for a good chunk of total greenhouse gas emissions. "And now, German scientists have invented a pill to cut bovine burping. The fist-sized plant-based pill, known as a bolus, combined with a special diet and strict feeding times, is meant to reduce the methane produced by cows." According to one of the researchers at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, "The idea is that the cows would use the methane to produce glucose instead of passing it as wind. In turn this should help them to produce more milk." Note: methane gas has a longer atmospheric lifetime than it's breakdown product, C02, and hence methane has a much higher climate forcing potential. Thus, a little prevention goes a long way. The underlying marketing principle here seems solid too. Give farmers a productivity enhancing tool that has corollary environmental benefits and the free market can make it happen. Still, it's not a good enough reason for bringing a cow on the elevator. For those concerned with animal welfare and bio-accumulation potential, we read elsewhere that that bolus' active ingredients are various humic acids, natural plant derived tannins specifically. Image credit: The Berkshires

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