Full steam ahead for cows!
Like all ruminants, cows play a significant role in the production of greenhouse gases, particularly methane. Genetic selection and foodstuffs can, of course, reduce this negative impact. But what is needed is a reliable method which is financially accessible both to farmers and the dairy industry, as well as which can be rolled out on a very large scale. A decisive step towards this has just been accomplished by researchers at Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech in partnership with the CRA-W. They have used information provided from the infra-red analysis of cows' milk to precisely and reliably estimate methane emissions. This step, which is even more crucial than European legislation on carbon labelling of foodstuffs, is making great progress.
500 grams of methane per day
In our regions, enteric fermentation (i.e. the microbial decomposition of food in the rumen) leads to the emission of 400 to 500 grams of methane per cow per day. Much as transport and domestic heating, there is no reason why cattle rearing should not also contribute towards the global drive to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This new mission involves work both on genetics and foodstuffs, seeking to identify stem cells from cows emitting the least methane and adapting foodstuffs to try to reduce this (the ideal is obviously to combine these two avenues wherever possible).