Can a Seaweed Diet Cut Livestock Methane Emissions?

While the most succesful climate change communications focus on fossil fuel emissions when drawing connections between climate changes causes and solutions, efforts to reduce emissions of other types of heat-trapping gasses can still yeild useful examples of the types of innovative solutions being pioneered by scientists and the business sector that could use support from our communities to speed adoption. 

For example, methane is a potent greenhouse gas that traps up to 100 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Methane, however, is short lived and its effect dimishes over time as it breaks down. One of the major sources of methane is from enteric fermentation of "ruminant" livestock and especially dairy cattle.

Researchers have worked on solutions to control livestock methane emmisions, but many promising solutions have failed the "taste test" when moved from the laboratory to the feed trough. The animals did not like the taste.

In 2017, researchers in Austrailia and confirmed by UC Davis have showed that adding 2% seaweed powder (with a little molasses for taste) to livestock feed reduces methane emissions by 99%. Work now continues to confirm these findings and ensure there are no negative side effects. 

 

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