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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 January 2006, 22:16 GMT
Trial bid to stop belching cattle
Bull
Cows and bulls can produce 500 litres of methane a day
Aberdeen scientists are carrying out commercial trials on a feed additive which they hope will stop cows from producing large amounts of methane.

Cattle are capable of producing 500 litres of the potent greenhouse gas every day, mostly through belching.

Researchers at the Rowett Research Institute have found a way of cutting back on the methane produced by ruminants like sheep and cows.

A one-year trial has now begun with an unnamed commercial partner.

This is great for the environment but it's also a win-win situation as the farmer benefits as well
Dr John Wallace
Rowett Research Institute

The natural additive works as part of the normal digestive process.

Dr John Wallace, who is leading the research, said: "We've done a lamb trial recently in which we used this additive and we obtained a 70% decrease in methane formation.

"This is great for the environment but it's also a win-win situation as the farmer benefits as well because the energy in that methane is retained in the animal's body.

'Positive effect'

"It means the animals grow 10% more efficiently. For every kilogramme of feed they consume they produce 10% more body weight."

The hope is to get the same methane reduction seen in sheep for cows.

However, farmers will be more interested in the resulting weight gain.

Aberdeenshire beef farmer Alistair Smart said: "The environmentally friendliness of the thing is very difficult for us farmers to equate to.

"It would never come into our daily equations but if there is a weight gain to be had it's going to be beneficial and going to have a double-edged positive effect."


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SEE ALSO:
Cow feed researchers smell success
30 Jan 02 |  Scotland


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