Animal Feeding / Europe / UK

Changing diets for cows, sheep could cut their emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas


A sheep grazing on grass in West Yorkshire (photo credit: Richard Carter’s Flickr Photostream).

Reuters reports this week that research funded by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) shows that changing the diets of the country’s cows and sheep could reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases, which cause global warming.

‘Feeding the animals maize silage, naked oats and higher sugar grasses could reduce the amount of methane they produce, the study by Reading University and the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences showed.

‘Agriculture accounts for around nine per cent of all British greenhouse gas emissions. Most of this comes from sheep, cows and goats.

‘Farming accounts for 41 per cent of Britain’s overall methane emissions, which are harmful to the environment.

‘A trial showed that high-sugar grasses could reduce an animal’s methane emissions by 20 per cent for every kg of weight gain and naked oats could reduce methane emissions from sheep by 33 percent. . . .’

Read the whole article at Reuters: New diets for cows, sheep could cut emissions, 4 April 2011.

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