Penn State research identifies a safe feed supplement that reduces cattle methane emissions without affecting milk quality
Methane’s atmospheric warming potential is as much as 32 times higher than that of carbon dioxide over 100 years. The average dairy cow belches 350 pounds of methane each year as a natural byproduct of its digestion, accounting for approximately 5% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Researchers have been testing various potential additives to dairy cattle feed for their effects on methane emissions and milk production and quality.
In response, animal scientists at Pennsylvania State University studied how the compound 3-nitrooxypropanol (3-NOP) affects a cow’s enteric methane emissions and the quality of its milk. A 15-week study examined the influence of 3-NOP influence on rumen fermentation, lactational performance, sensory properties of milk and the resumption of ovarian cycles in 56 lactating dairy cows.
The results of the study suggest that 3-NOP inhibits an enzyme that helps to synthesize methane in the cow’s rumen. Supplemented feed decreased the cow’s methane emissions by about 29% without affecting the sensory qualities of the milk. The supplement also increased the milk fat percentage and the feed efficiency per unit of milk yield. The use of 3-NOP to supplement cattle feed provides a safe and economical way for farmers to affordably reduce the carbon footprint of cattle production and benefit from increased efficiency. This study is a critical step in the approval process for use of 3-NOP in the United States and around the world.
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