Garlic in cow
feed keeps gases down on the farm
January 2, 2020
KUALA LUMPUR –
Thomas Hafner, of Mootral, believes that his garlic supplement could
cut methane emissions from cows by 38 per cent.
The cows on Joe Towers’s
dairy farm have been burping a lot less since he began adding a
little garlic to their feed.
They seem to like the
flavour but he is not doing it to keep them happy. His 400 cows have
taken part in the largest trial of adding a natural supplement to
cattle diet to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas they belch.
Scientists found the mix
of garlic and citrus extract reduced methane emissions by up to 38
per cent. The effect was produced by adding only about 15g of the
supplement to the cows’ daily feed.
Mr Towers hopes the
results, published in a study involving the dairy research and
innovation centre at Scotland’s Rural College, will help consumers
to feel less guilty about eating meat and dairy products. About 15
per cent of greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock and a third
of that is from methane, which traps 25 times more heat than carbon
dioxide but remains in the atmosphere for a shorter period. Most of
the methane produced by cattle comes from their burps.
The trial also found that
milk yield rose by up to 8 per cent. The cows were also less
stressed because the garlic appeared to deter the flies that bother
The supplement, which is
blended in Abertillery in Monmouthshire by the Swiss company Mootral,
had no effect on the milk’s taste or smell. Several methane-reducing
supplements have been tested on cattle, with the University of
California showing that seaweed could reduce methane by 60 per cent.
Garlic is cheaper and more readily available.
Mootral’s supplement costs
about £50 per cow per year, which could be recouped through higher
yields. It also claims the supplement reduces udder infections,
saving on antibiotics.
However, Mootral concedes
that farmers may need an extra incentive to buy the supplement and
has developed a system of “cow credits” under which the benefit of
the methane reduction could be sold to those seeking to offset their
For Mr Towers, one of the
greatest benefits is improving the image of dairy farming, which he
says has been tarnished by unfair attacks by environmentalists who
ignore the nutritional benefits of milk. “This is a good opportunity
to show the dairy industry does care about the environment,” he