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Switching cows to a different feed can reduce greenhouse gas emissions

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Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Are dairy farmers and consumers aware that cows could yield an extra 2 to 4 kg of milk while also producing less greenhouse gases? A research scientist at the Dairy and Swine Research and Development Centre discovered, after more than a decade of research, that making changes to dairy cow feeding methods can enable cows to digest more efficiently and thus to produce less greenhouse gases.

Feeding a cow a diet that is higher in fat and/or includes certain essential oils reduces the fermentation that occurs in the rumen (the cow’s stomach) during digestion. The cow consequently belches less methane, a greenhouse gas. The new feeding strategies can reduce the methane emitted during the cow’s digestion by 10% to 14%. They enable the cow to expend less energy on digestion, energy that can then be used to produce more milk. The result is short-term economic benefits for dairy farmers as well as environmental benefits that accumulate over the longer term.

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