Feeding cows pink seaweed can help reduce methane emissions

Researchers have found that adding a fluffy pink seaweed into cows' diet can help get rid of their environmentally devastating methane burps.


NSFW    BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA — Australian scientists have found a puffy pink seaweed that can rid cows of their environmentally devastating methane burps.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, microbes in cows' stomachs produce methane as part of normal digestive processes.

The gas can pass through either end of the animal, but does so primarily through the mouth, in the form of burps.

As a greenhouse gas, methane may not be as prevalent in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. But it is far more effective at trapping radiation, and is 25 times more potent than CO2.

To combat methane emissions from cattle, researchers from Australia's University of the Sunshine Coast turned to a pink seaweed called Asparagopsis, which grows naturally off the Queensland coast.

When added to cattle feed at a ratio of two percent, the seaweed reduced microbes in the cows' guts, which eliminated methane production by up to 99 percent.

According to USC Associate Professor Nick Paul, who heads the Seaweed Research Group, Asparagopsis is not a particularly abundant species.

As such, the team is currently trying to determine the perfect growing conditions for the seaweed, with the goal of growing it sustainably, at a much larger scale.

If enough pink seaweed can be grown and fed to every cow in the country, Professor Paul says Australia could cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent.
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