Believe it or not, when cows burp and fart they emit a gas that can have serious negative effects on the environment. Methane gas is 25 times more potent than its greenhouse gas partner in crime carbon dioxide. With the recent upswing in factory farming, big agriculture now accounts for more than 18% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. This vastly surpasses the carbon footprint of the transportation industry. So to put that in perspective- the environmental impact of every single car, truck and cruise ship across the globe doesn’t even approach the amount of pollution created by factory farms. To address this problem, researchers in England have discovered that a change in diet could reduce the amount of harmful methane gas emitted by livestock when they pass wind.
Researchers from Reading University in the UK, where the agricultural sector accounts for about 43% of the nation’s methane emissions, have discovered that “Increasing the proportion of maize silage (corn fodder) in cows’ diets from 25% to 75% could reduce methane emission by 6% per litre of milk, while high-sugar grasses could reduce an animal’s methane emissions by 20% for every kilo of weight gain…A diet including a particular variety of oat could cut sheep’s methane emissions by a third.”
Britain’s Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said, “It is very exciting that this new research has discovered that by simply changing the way we feed farm animals we have the potential to make a big difference to the environment.”