Feeding cows seaweed can both improve their health and reduce their enteric methane emissions. This startling discovery was made by a Canadian cattle farmer when his cattle started eating storm-tossed seaweed in their paddock 11 years ago.
Further research has since been conducted in Canada and Australia, where in laboratory conditions more than 20 kinds of seaweed were tested and found to reduce methane emissions by up to 50 per cent.
One particular seaweed successfully reduced methane by 99 per cent in the lab. Unlike other seaweeds where the effect diminishes at low doses, the Asparagopsis taxiformis species works at doses of less than two per cent. It does so by disrupting the enzymes used by gut microbes that produce methane gas as waste during digestion. Cows and sheep burp copiously, thus producing methane, a greenhouse gas that is 28 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
This discovery could be a valuable tool in combating climate change!
Although a promising discovery, we mustn’t forget the impact that livestock farming has on our environment. Being more conscious about the meat we eat it crucial, as cutting down on our consumption of it could also help to cut greenhouse gas emissions. See this video for more information on why we should question our relationship with meat