Seaweed-Eating Cows Burp Less Methane into Our Atmosphere

Cow burps are apparently the source of a lot of methane in our atmosphere. And there are a lot of cows on Earth. But a new research mission suggests a great way to reduce those emissions and significantly lower methane, which causes warming on our planet, and its straight from the sea. As reported by the Guardian, adding seaweed to beef cow diets can lower methane by as much as 82%.

“We now have sound evidence that seaweed in cattle diet is effective at reducing greenhouse gases and that the efficacy does not diminish over time,” said agricultural scientist Ermias Kebreab in the Guardian. Kebreab works at the University of California, Davis and is senior author of the research paper.

This is a really big deal for us and our planet. Livestock is responsible for about 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions, with cows being 65% of that number. The results were published in the PLoS One journal and researchers say the methane reductions through adding seaweed did not affect the cow’s ability to put on weight.

In fact, their seaweed-enhanced diet actually allowed the cows to convert feed to body weight 20% more efficiently. This means less feed can be used to have the cows get to a weight that’s suitable for market. Of course, there are natural questions that still need answers when it comes to the use of seaweed.

several black and white and brown and white cows stand in an open green pasture with the front two looking directly at the camera

Kat Jayne/ Pexels

Is there enough in the ocean to sustain billions of beef cows around the world? What happens if seaweed is over harvested for this purpose? It’s possible that we could be setting ourselves up for another big problem under the sea while trying to solve a land issue. There are no clear-cut answers for now; but considering how humans can create anything these days, it wouldn’t be shocking to have laboratory seaweed for cows.

Either way, it’s something interesting to ponder. Who knew that seaweed could affect cow burps and make the world less toasty? Our planet is full of surprises.

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