Seaweed vs Cattle Methane
Elm Innovations is catalyzing innovators in the U.S. dairy
industry and climate-concerned foundations around the use of a
specific seaweed additive to cattle ...
Beef: America’s dinner and a juicy climate
... Beef, responsible for roughly 6% of greenhouse gas emissions,
is the single biggest food factor when it comes to climate change,
according to a 2013 United Nations report.
On the real beef side, Elm Innovations, a nonprofit founded in
2016, is working with researchers at University of California,
Davis, to feed cattle a supplement of particular kind of seaweed.
“The seaweed very dramatically reduces cow-burped methane to the
tune of 50% or greater, which is extremely large,” said the
group’s founder, Joan King Salwen, whose family had a cattle and
Joan King Salwen - Continuing Fellow,
Distinguished Careers Institute ...
Elm Innovations accelerates the impact of livestock innovations
that regenerate soil health, reduce their reliance on fresh water,
and protect the atmosphere.
California scientists hope feeding cows
seaweed will make them less gassy — which could be great news
for the environment
by Jeff Daniels
..."From the cows, half of the methane emissions is from the
belching of the animal and the other half is from the manure,"
said Ermias Kebreab, one of the researchers behind cows consuming
seaweed and an animal-science professor at the University of
California-Davis. "You can use additives such as seaweed to try to
reduce the methane that's belched out of the animal."
Kebreab and his team are demonstrating the seaweed project this
week and plan to publish preliminary findings in late June and
begin further tests with additional cattle later this summer.
According to Kebreab, the project is supported by several
non-profits, including Elm Innovations, an organization out of
Stanford University. Another contributor is the 11th Hour Project
— a program of the Schmidt Family Foundation, a private foundation
created by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
"This is really the first trial on dairy cattle that's been done
ever in the world," Kebreab said. "From what I've seen so far, it
seems to work quite well. But there's a lot of stuff we need to do
before this can be a viable solution."
Based on preliminary findings, Kebreab said a touch of seaweed
added to the cattle's diet appears to reduce dairy cow's gassiness
by "well over 30 percent."
Kebreab said the methane emissions could be lowered even more by
increasing the seaweed concentration used from about 1 percent to
2 percent of the cow's diet.
The researcher said cows usually consume about 50 pounds of feed
per day, and the seaweed mixture represents only around half a
pound of the animal's diet. There's been no drop in milk yields on
the cows using the seaweed additive.
"You're not changing the main diet of the animal," he said. "It's
just a matter of mixing the additive to their diet and providing
Can seaweed make cow burps less potent?
These UC Davis scientists hope to find out
By Benjy Egel
Early indications of a UC Davis study show feeding dairy cows
seaweed may reduce methane emissions caused by their belching, the
university announced Thursday.
UC Davis animal science professor Ermias Kebreab and animal
biology PhD candidate Breanna Roque separated 12 Holstein cows
into three groups, two of which received different doses of
seaweed in their feed and one of which got no seaweed at all.
"The numbers we’re seeing are amazing — well beyond the target
that farmers will need to reach," Kebreab said in a media release.
"This is a very surprising and promising development."
The two test groups eat seaweed sweetened with molasses for two
weeks at a time before returning to a normal diet for a week. Each
cow eats a snack from an open-air device that simultaneously
measures their breath's methane content. Their milk is also tested
for yield, flavor and nutritional content throughout the
“Results are not final, but so far we are seeing substantial
emission reductions," Kebreab said. "This could help California’s
dairy farmers meet new methane-emission standards and sustainably
produce the dairy products we need to feed the world.”
An Australian lab found in 2016 that making seaweed two percent of
a cow's feed could inhibiting gas-producing enzymes and cut
methane emissions by 99 percent. The UC Davis experiment is the
first to test the theory on live animals, according to the
Study: Seaweed in Cow Feed Reduces Methane Emissions
A recent study by researchers at James Cook University in
Queensland, Australia, has found a certain type of Australian red
algae can significantly inhibit methane emissions from cows. Led
by Professor of Aquaculture Rocky De Nys, researchers found an
addition of less than 2 percent dried seaweed to a cow’s diet can
reduce methane emissions by 99 percent. The study was conducted in
collaboration with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial
Research Organization (CSIRO), an Australian federal research
Methane is about 25-times more potent than carbon dioxide in a
100-year time span, and a single cow releases between 70 and 120
kilograms of methane per year. Burps from cows account for 26
percent of the United States’ total methane emissions, and the
U.S. is only the world’s fourth-largest producer of cattle, behind
China, Brazil, and India. There are currently approximately 1.3 to
1.5 billion cows roaming the planet.
Researchers started investigating the potential effect of seaweed
on cows in 2005, when a dairy farmer named Joe Dorgan
inadvertently conducted an experiment on his herd in Prince Edward
Island, Canada. Dorgan noticed cows that grazed on washed-up
seaweed in paddocks along the shore were healthier and more
productive than those that stayed in the field. He began feeding
his cows a mixture of local storm-tossed seaweed and found the new
diet saved him money and induced “rip-roaring heats,” or longer
cycles of reproductive activity.
Dorgan is not the first farmer to discover the beneficial
properties of seaweed in farm animals. The practice was used by
Ancient Greeks in 100 B.C, according to the U.N. Food and
Agriculture Organization. There are also records of Icelandic
farmers using kelp and algae to keep livestock healthy and produce
larger milk yields.
A 2014 study by Canadian researchers Rob Kinley and Alan Fredeen
confirmed the results of Dorgan’s experiment and found, in
addition, that “feeding seaweeds and macroalgal products has been
shown to reduce enteric methane emission from rumen fermentation.”
In short, seaweed can reduce the amount of methane cows emit into
the atmosphere with their gas. Kinley joined De Nys in Australia
two years later to conduct further in vitro tests.
Kinley and De Nys tested 20 different species of seaweed on
bacteria found in the stomachs of cows. They discovered seaweed
reduced methane production by up to 50 percent, depending on the
amount administered. But methane reduction at notable levels
required high doses of seaweed, almost 20 percent by weight of the
sample. This large percentage of seaweed would be difficult to
implement outside of the lab and would likely have a negative
effect on cow’s digestion.
When the researchers tested a species of red algae called
Asparagopsis taxiformis that grows off the coast of Queensland,
Australia, they found it reduced methane production by more than
99 percent in the lab. In addition, it only required a dose of
less than 2 percent to work effectively. Upon digestion,
Asparagopsis produces a compound called Bromoform (CHBR3), which
interacts with enzymes in ruminant stomachs and halts the cycle of
methane production before the gas is released into the atmosphere.
In 2011, Dorgan sold his dairy farm in order to start selling
seaweed-infused cow feed full-time. The company he part-owns,
North Atlantic Organics, uses traditional methods of seaweed
production like hand-raking and solar drying to reduce its carbon
footprint and ensure the final product is free of additives...
Asparagopsis Taxiformis Credit: Jean-Pascal Quod
However, researchers and farmers will have to overcome
considerable roadblocks before the technique can be implemented on
an industrial scale. Most dairy and cattle operations are located
inland, far from the sea and its supply of seaweed. More
importantly, producing enough Asparagopsis to feed even 10 percent
of Australia’s feedlot and dairy cattle would require upwards of
15,000 acres of commercial seaweed farms. Wild harvesting could
work on a farm-by-farm basis, but the practice becomes unfeasible
on a large scale.
“That is the number one barrier — getting enough seaweed to feed
to millions of cows,” Kinley said in an interview with Australia’s
Animal Production Science, 56 (3). pp. 282-289. (2016)
The red macroalgae Asparagopsis taxiformis
is a potent natural antimethanogenic that reduces methane
production during in vitro fermentation with rumen fluid
Kinley, Robert D., de Nys, Rocky, Vucko, Matthew J., Machado,
Lorenna, and Tomkins, Nigel W.
Livestock feed modification is a viable method for reducing
methane emissions from ruminant livestock. Ruminant enteric
methane is responsible approximately to 10% of greenhouse gas
emissions in Australia. Some species of macroalgae have
antimethanogenic activity on in vitro fermentation. This study
used in vitro fermentation with rumen inoculum to characterise
increasing inclusion rates of the red macroalga Asparagopsis
taxiformis on enteric methane production and digestive efficiency
throughout 72-h fermentations. At dose levels 1% of substrate
organic matter there was minimal effect on gas and methane
production. However, inclusion 2% reduced gas and eliminated
methane production in the fermentations indicating a minimum
inhibitory dose level. There was no negative impact on substrate
digestibility for macroalgae inclusion 5%, however, a significant
reduction was observed with 10% inclusion. Total volatile fatty
acids were not significantly affected with 2% inclusion and the
acetate levels were reduced in favour of increased propionate and,
to a lesser extent, butyrate which increased linearly with
increasing dose levels. A barrier to commercialisation of
Asparagopsis is the mass production of this specific macroalgal
biomass at a scale to provide supplementation to livestock.
Another area requiring characterisation is the most appropriate
method for processing (dehydration) and feeding to livestock in
systems with variable feed quality and content. The in vitro
assessment method used here clearly demonstrated that Asparagopsis
can inhibit methanogenesis at very low inclusion levels whereas
the effect in vivo has yet to be confirmed.
Journal of Applied Phycology, December 2015, Volume 27,
Issue 6, pp 2387–2393
In vitro evaluation of feeding North
Atlantic stormtoss seaweeds on ruminal digestion
R. D. Kinley, A. H. Fredeen
Feeding seaweeds and macroalgal products has been shown to reduce
enteric methane emission from rumen fermentation. On Prince Edward
Island, Canada, stormtoss shoreweed (SHW) consists of variable
seaweed proportions of Chondrus crispus (Irish moss; IM),
Laminaria longicruris, and Fucus vesiculosus. The impact of
invasion by Furcellaria spp. (FF) and its increasing proportion in
SHW harvests on feeding value has not been evaluated. The aim of
this study was to determine effects of feeding SHW on ruminal
fermentation and methane production. Effects were assessed in
vitro using continuous culture with pooled rumen inocula from
Holstein cows. In vitro cultures were maintained on 30 g day−1 of
the dietary dry matter (DM) fed to donor cows and were
supplemented with FF or IM at 0.14, or SHW at 0.14 (SHW1), 0.28
(SHW2), or 0.56 (SHW3) g DM day−1. There was little change in pH,
total volatile fatty acids, or the acetate/propionate ratio due to
seaweeds. The SHW mix and component seaweeds reduced the
post-fermentation level of NH3-N suggesting decreased deamination
of dietary and microbial amino acids. Methane emission was reduced
on average 12 % with seaweeds and maximally by 16 % with SHW2.
Reduction in methane production was not induced by impaired
organic matter (OM) digestibility which averaged 46 %. North
Atlantic SHW has potential based on in vitro screening at these
doses to be fed to ruminants with beneficial effects on methane
production at little cost to dietary digestibility.
Atlantic-Gro Organic Sea Plant Products
North Atlantic Organics Ltd (NAO) is a producer and distributor of
organic sea plant (seaweed) products that serve as mineral
supplements to animals and plants. We are an environmentally
responsible company committed to a reduced carbon footprint.
Through using traditional methods of hand and horse raking
seaweeds from the shores of PEI, as well as solar drying, fossil
fuels are not burned and the quality of our product is preserved.
Atlantic-Gro® products are made from 100% wild harvested Kelp and
Rockweed and do not contain artificial additives, preservatives,
fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, antibodies or genetically
modified organisms (GMO).
Our products are suitable for animals such as: cattle, horses,
hogs, hens and sheep. We are in the process of developing natural
plant enhancement supplements that can be used as fertilizer for
crops such as potatoes, cranberries, strawberries, soybeans and
Animal Nutritional Studies -- several animal nutritional
studies which go into more detail about the effects and benefits
of sea plants on animals.
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