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  • Rights: DairyNZ and The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato
    Published 15 April 2021 Referencing Hub media

    It’s a misunderstanding that methane emissions come from the back end of cows. Fortunately, they are burped out, which means we can target the start of the digestive system to find ways to reduce emissions. The DairyNZ experts in this video are researching how forages like plantain may help reduce the amount of methane in cow burps.

    Question for discussion:

    • What causes cows to produce methane?


    Holly Flay

    Methane is an incredibly important gas that’s playing a role in global warming, and we need to play our part in the dairy industry to help reduce those emissions. Methane is one of the byproducts of cow digestion. It largely is burped out. There’s minimal amounts of microbial fermentation that happens in the large intestines as well, which means they fart out a very minimal amount of methane. But most of it comes out the front end. So it’s cow burps, not cow farts.

    Dr Elena Minnée

    Their first stomach – their amazing rumen, which we do not have – is a big fermentation vat of microbes that are busy bubbling away, fermenting away like your ginger beer. And that produces methane gas, and that gas is burped out of there.

    Kieran McCahon

    So, it’s really important that the vast majority or methane comes from the cow out the mouth – whether that’s through breathing or through belching – through the rumination process. That means we’ve got an incredible solution to be able to influence the rumination process – the rumen microbiology – to reduce the amount of methane that is ultimately belched out by the cow.

    Holly Flay
    Dr Elena Minnée
    Kieran McCahon


    This resource has been produced with the support of DairyNZ.

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