Process Management

News 256 views last update:6 Aug 2012

Fish oils in feed can cut methane emissions

Omega 3 fatty acids in the cows diet may help in reducing the methane emission from these animals – coming from belching.

A herd of 200 cows can produce annual emissions of methane roughly equivalent in energy terms to driving a family car more than 100,000 miles (180,000km) on more than four gallons (21,400 litres) of petrol.

Researchers from University College Dublin found however, by adding two per cent of fish oil to the animal's feed the amount of methane is reduced by around a fifth. The omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oils can also help the heart and circulatory system and improve meat quality.

Speaking at the Society for General Microbiology meeting in Harrogate, Dr Lorraine Lillis, one of the researchers, said the study could help the agriculture industry cut emissions. She said: "The fish oil affects the methane-producing bacteria in the rumen part of the cow's gut, leading to reduced emissions.

"Understanding which microbial species are particularly influenced by changes in diet and relating them to methane production could bring about a more targeted approach to reducing methane emissions in animals."

Jonathan Scurlock, an adviser at the National Farmers Union, said farmers were willing to modify feed in order to reduce emissions but at the moment there are few affordable options on the market and he encouraged more research into the area.

[source: telegraph UK]

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