Image source: Getty Images
While farmers in the US are trying to save money by feeding their cows junk food, the London Times reported today that scientists have found a diet that just might cut down on the belching coming from cows. By feeding cows chopped hay and straw, only 6-7cm in length, farmers can cut down on emissions by 20%. While cows don't really prefer the straw/hay combo, they will learn to eat it by adding silage, wheat, maize, soya or sugar beet, "just as children are encouraged to take their medicine by cloaking it in a syrup" because they can't pick around it.
Farms across the UK are already trying out the new regimen and noticing good results. First, the chopped hay/straw helps to settle the stomach of the cow and produce fewer burps. Second, farmers are noticing an increase in milk yield and scientists say that this is because the hay/straw are adding extra fiber to the diet, which makes the cows chew more, creating more saliva and fermentation and increasing milk yields. Farmers also report that their cows are healthier and there are less incidence of lamess. Who wants lame cows anyways?Scientists estimate that if every farmer in the UK adoped this regimen, they could collectively save 1.6 million tons of methane emissions every year. Methane being more destructive than CO2 in the atmosphere. There are 5 million cattle globally, accounting for 5% of global methane emissions, so a 20% reduction in emissions per cow really adds up.
More on Cow Burps and Farts
Farmer's Little Helper: A Pill to Cut Down on Cow Farting
Cows and Climate Change
How Studying Cow Burps is Helping Argentinians Learn About Climate Change
A Stinky Solution to a Stinkier Problem: Using Garlic to Fight Cow Farts