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Reducing greenhouse gases in dairy production (Video)

Greenhouse gas emissions in dairy production are a concern to us. Find out how Dr. Chaouki Benchaar of the Sherbrooke Dairy and Swine Research and Development Centre was able to reduce methane emissions by changing dairy cow nutrition.

Video Transcript

[An image and a maple leaf appear on screen. This is the title graphic for the video.]

[Light, electronic music fades in.]

Text on screen: Greenhouse gas reduction in dairy farming

[Fade up from black.]

Narrator: Dairy farming is an important part of agriculture in Quebec and Canada.

[The camera pans from right to left showing the exterior of a dairy farm.]

[Cut to the interior of the dairy barn. We see dairy cattle standing in individual stalls.]

Even though they use leading-edge technology, dairy farms contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

[Light, electronic music fades continues.]

[Cut to a shot of a farm attaching milking equipement to a cow. The camera cuts to a close-up of the milking equipment.]

[Cut to a shot of a different farmer cleaning up the rows in between the cows. The camera cuts to a close-up shot of him shoveling hay back towards the cows.]

The dairy sector and the science and innovation sector are working together to find solutions to reduce the environmental impact of dairy farming.

[The camera cuts to show a series of close-up shots of dairy cattle.]

[Cut to show the exterior of the Dairy and Swine Research and Development Centre in Sherbrooke, Québec. The camera changes to show the sign for the Centre.]

[Light, electronic music fades continues.]

At the Dairy and Swine Research and Development Centre in Sherbrooke, Dr. Chaouki Benchaar does research on dairy cow nutrition and metabolism.

[Cut to show the interior of one of the cattle barns found at the Centre. Here we see Dr. Benchaar and his research assistant discussing their research.]

[Cut to a close-up shot of dairy cattle eating hay. A man goes by on a machine that is dropping more hay for the cows to eat.]

This research shows that changing the feed can not only reduce the amount of methane produced in digestion...

[Cut to a dairy farmer and two his young sons feeding young dairy cattle. The father drops food pellets into individual buckets and the older son follows and puts hay in a bucket for each cow.]

...but also increase milk production.

[Cut to a medium shot of Dr. Chaouki Benchaar.]

Text on screen: Dr. Chaouki Benchaar, Research Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Dr. Benchaar: When the dairy cow ingests food, the food is degraded by the microbes that colonize the rumen...

[Cut to a shot of a simple graphic of a cow on a white background. The graphic also show us the cows digestive system.]

[Light, electronic music fades continues.]

[Inside the stomach of the cow we can see bacteria moving around. As they move, small bubbles begin to exit the stomach. A black graphic appears to bring attention to these bubbles. Text appears on screen.]

...and the degradation and fermentation of the food produce methane.

Text on screen: Methane

[The shot changes back to show Dr. Benchaar.]

Methane is a known greenhouse gas.

[The shot changes to show a cow as it is entering a milking parlour.]

Ruminants such as dairy cows...

[The shot changes back to show Dr. Benchaar.]

...contribute to greenhouse gases through the emission of this enteric methane.

[The shot changes to show some of the methane measuring equipement used by Dr. Benchaar and his team. His research assistant is working with research results on a laptop.]

Narrator: The results obtained by Dr. Benchaar and his team are very encouraging.

[The shot changes to show Dr. Benchaar and his assistant standing in a research barn. They are discussing research and smiling at each other.]

[The shot changes to show a bar graph superimposed on graph paper. One bar indicates the level of methane production. The other bar indicates the level of milk production.]

[Light, electronic music fades continues.]

By changing the cows' feed, they have been able to reduce methane production by up to 24%...

[The bar indicated methane production drops to show a reduction of 24%.]

[The bar indicating the level of milk production does not drop, showing that milk production hasn't dropped at all.]

...without negatively affecting the animals' milk production.

[The shot changes back to show Dr. Benchaar.]

[The shot changes to a still close-up of a farmer with a handful of grain. Little droplets appear and begin falling into the grain.]

[Light, electronic music fades continues.]

Benchaar: Adding plant fats, called "vegetable lipids"...

[A graphic appears to indicate the droplets.]

Text on screen: Vegetable lipids

...to the dairy cow's ration...

[The shot changes back to show Dr. Benchaar.]

...reduces the methane. It inhibits the microorganisms, called "methanogens", from producing methane and that reduces the degradation of the food, particularly organic matter.

[The shot changes to show the interior of the research barn. There are cattle standing in individual stalls.]

The general result is that less degradation occurs in the cows rumen...

[The shot changes back to show Dr. Benchaar.]

...and the cow therefore emits less methane in digestion.

[The shot changes to show dairy cattle standing in a larger pen. It appears to be cold inside the barn.]

[The shot changes to show a piece of graph paper.]

[Light, electronic music fades continues.]

Narrator: When the dairy cow ingests food, it ingests a certain quantity of energy.

[A grey circle, a pie chart, appears on screen and gradually fills in.]

The methane production that happens in digestion represents a loss of energy for the cow of some four to seven percent of the gross energy ingested.

[A line appears on screen, pointing at the pie chart. Text also appears on screen.]

Text on screen: Quantity of energy ingested

[The pie chart retracts slightly to indicate an energy loss of 4-7%. Text appears on screen.]

Text on screen: Energy lost through methane production

[The shot changes to show a very young, white calf looking directly at the camera.]

[Light, electronic music fades continues.]

If we can reduce energy losses in the form of methane...

[The shot changes to show a milk truck driving down a road.]

[The shot changes to show a farm family sitting at the table having a family dinner. A jug of milk is passed around the table. A young girl pours herself a glass of milk.]

[Light, electronic music fades continues.]

...the energy saved can be used for production purposes–for example, milk production.

[The shot changes to show her father in their dairy barn. He is using a tie-stall system to milk the cows.]

This has both an environmental and an economic impact.

[The shot changes back to show Dr. Benchaar.]

[Light, electronic music fades continues.]

Benchaar: All the available tools are being used to make sure that the information developed through research goes beyond the laboratory and is applied immediately or in the short term by Canada's dairy farmers.

[The shot changes to show a dairy cow standing in a pen with other dairy cows in the background. It is winter outside.]

[Fade to black.]

[Fade up from black.]

Text on screen: Modern. Innovative. Growing. Discover other agricultural innovations at www.agr.gc.ca.

[Light, electronic music fades out.]

Text on screen: Canada, Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (2015).

[Fade to black.]

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