Feed additive claims 30pc reduction in methane emissions in cattle

Beef Central, 31/10/2019

DUTCH multi-national Royal DSM has provided an update on a new feed additive product which it claims reduces methane production in cattle by about 30 percent.

DSM is a global, purpose-led, science-based company active in the fields of nutrition, health and sustainable living.

The company claims that adding a quarter-teaspoon of its product Bovaer, to a cow’s feed each day suppresses the enzyme that triggers methane production in the rumen, “enabling farmers to consistently and conveniently reduce methane emissions from dairy and beef cattle and other ruminant herds,” according to a statement.

“The additive takes effect immediately and is safely broken down in the cow’s normal digestive system. As soon as the additive is no longer fed, full methane production resumes and there are no lasting effects in the cow,” DSM said.

The product has been under development for a decade, and the company claims it is the most extensively studied solution for burped methane to date.

DSM said it was currently working with regulatory authorities, and scientific and private partners from across the value chain in different parts of the world on the application of Bovaer. The company said it was working in various farming systems to demonstrate usage and measure the impact of the feed additive on methane production.

“The latter will ensure the efforts of farmers and food supply chains can be recognised for the positive contribution they make to emissions,” the company said.

Bovaer is the first product developed through DSM’s Project Clean Cow, a 10-year research and development focus launched as part of the company’s sustainability doctrine.

“It is the most extensively studied and scientifically proven solution to the challenge of burped methane to date,” the company said.

Thirty five on-farm beef and dairy trials across the globe and in various feeding systems had been conducted so far, showing an enteric methane reduction of +/- 30pc could be consistently achieved.

“Some trials went up as high as 80pc reduction,” DSM said.

In addition, more than 25 peer-reviewed studies have been published which the company said clarified and proved the mode of action.

The product had recently been featured by the World Resources Institute as one of the ten global break-through technologies that can help to feed the world sustainably, DSM said.

DSM said it was working with partners across the globe from the dairy value chain to prepare for market introduction of Bovaer.

“These activities include trials to confirm effectiveness in local farming systems and further build up practical farm experience.”

In Denmark, Norway, United Kingdom and Ireland, trials are planned with local scientific institutes and partners from the dairy chain commencing in 2020. In the Netherlands, DSM is working with a consortium from across the Dutch dairy value chain to take the next step towards implementation, by setting up a trial at the Dairy Campus Leeuwarden aiming to gather all information necessary for accreditation by the Climate Module of The Netherlands Dairy Organisation’s ‘Kringloopwijzer’.

These results would also form the foundation for accreditation systems in other geographies, DSM said.

In Australia and New Zealand, DSM is working with industry and research institutes to develop a pasture-based application model for Bovaer.

Work conducted at the NZ AgResearch and CSIRO had successfully investigated a number of models using the feed additive for different pasture feeding systems common in both New Zealand and Australia.

Trials are planned through 2020 with customers to validate these application models in commercial settings, the company said.

Bovaer has recently been filed for registration in Europe where it will be available as soon as market authorisation is granted with a launch in the region anticipated in late 2020/early 2021. Registrations of the feed additive in other regions will follow.

The feed additive had the potential to contribute to a significant and immediate reduction of the environmental footprint of meat, milk and dairy products – key sources of affordable protein around the world, DSM said.


Methane and cows

Methane is a natural by-product of digestion in cows and other ruminants, released into the atmosphere through burping.

Methane is a greenhouse gas which, like carbon dioxide, contributes to climate change. Methane is a short-lived, but much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 and ruminants (mainly cows) emit about 20pc of all methane gasses globally.

Reducing global methane emissions from cows would result in immediate impact and therewith help slow the pace of global warming in the next decade, as part of longer-term action on CO2 reduction.


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