Feed Supplements Reduce Climate-Harming Cow Burps

“Mootral’s new supplement for cows helps curb their climate change-causing burps.”

“At Brades Farm, a dairy in Lancashire, England, farmers now market their milk as “climate-smart”: The dairy is one of the first to begin feeding its cattle a new supplement that shrinks the amount of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, that cows emit when they belch. Mootral, the Switzerland-based company making the new supplements, will soon be issued the world’s first carbon credits for methane reduction in cows.

Cow burps are a big part of the reason that beef, cheese, and ice cream have large carbon footprints, and Mootral wants to help the industry transform. Methane is 84 times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide. A single industrially farmed cow produces roughly as much pollution as six average European cars; there are around 1.4 billion cattle in the world. By one estimate, cows emit more climate pollution globally than the entire economies of Japan or Germany.

“A lot of people eat meat, and a lot of people eat dairy products, and for the foreseeable future, that is not going to change in a significant way,” says Mootral CEO Thomas Hafner. “If it does, then, good for the planet. But even though we see a move towards non-dairy alternatives, and people going to non-animal protein sources, populations in other parts of the world are progressing from a cereal-based diet into an animal protein-rich diet. Whatever we lose on one side, we’re going to gain on the other, if not more. What we provide is a solution to reduce the impact of that down the line.””

Adele Peters reports for Fast Company May 11, 2020.