How feeding cows seaweed could affect climate change

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Researchers have discovered a creative way to reduce the greenhouse gas contributions of cows. The answer, they say, lies in seaweed, a widely available product that grows around the world. (Getty Images)

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April 29 2021 07:00 pm

(NEXSTAR) — Researchers have discovered a creative way to reduce the greenhouse gas contributions of cows. The answer, they say, lies in seaweed, a widely available product that grows in oceans around the world.

Published Wednesday in the journal Plos One, the researchers found that feeding cows just a small amount of seaweed over five months reduced their methane expulsion — from burps to flatulence — by an impressive 82%.

Studies have shown that cows contribute about 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which are a major contributor to global warming and climate change.

Cows produce methane due to microbes in their stomachs, but feeding them a small amount of the seaweed Asparagopsis taxiformis appears to counteract some of this methane production, the researchers say.

“We now have sound evidence that seaweed in cattle diet is effective at reducing greenhouse gases and that the efficacy does not diminish over time,” study co-author and agricultural scientist Ermias Kebreab told the Guardian.

“There is more work to be done, but we are very encouraged by these results,” Roque said. “We now have a clear answer to the question of whether seaweed supplements can sustainably reduce livestock methane emissions and its long-term effectiveness.”

Previous research by Roque determined that the seaweed supplements didn’t affect the cows’ milk output, while this latest study determined that there is no difference in the taste of meat from cows fed seaweed.

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