Cow Feed Research Aims to Cut ME Dairies' Methane Emissions

May 09, 2024

By Kathryn Carley

New research could help Maine dairy farmers increase profits while reducing effects on the climate.

Scientists said adding a plant-based essential oil blend to cow feed can improve the animal's digestion and reduce the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Andre Brito, associate professor of dairy cattle nutrition and management at the University of New Hampshire, said the findings are especially true for pasture grazing cows, and showed a happy cow makes for a healthier environment.

"If those animals are provided those conditions, they'll be more productive," Brito emphasized. "The amount of methane that's being emitted by those animals is diluted because they're producing more product."

Brito reported adding the plant oils led to a more than 6% increase in milk production, which is good news for the majority of Maine dairies, which are small to midsize operations with smaller profit margins and higher equipment costs.

Still, Brito noted the research findings could translate to larger, industrial-size dairies. Factory farms often hold thousands of cows, generating significant methane emissions through their hearty burps and manure, which is often stored in large, polluting lagoons. Brito acknowledged although the plant-based oils are readily available for use, farmers must weigh the economic benefits and overall environmental impact.

"Any investment that the farmers would make in a product has to be tied to economics," Brito stated. "Even though farmers overall, they're conscious about the environment and they want to make sure that there is less carbon, nitrogen footprint out of their farms."

Click here to see more...
Subscribe to our Newsletters

Trending Video