Feeding cows seaweed | bygora.com

Feeding Cows a Daily Dose of Seaweed – Could This Save Our Planet?

Research suggests that a small daily dose of seaweed added to cattle feed could help to combat the methane gas the animals emit. In a laboratory in West Cork, small clumps of red seaweed are found in glass flasks, but little do many people know that they could be a huge part of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the future. Dr. Julie Maguire is a marine biologist who has been carrying out these experiments in her lab at Bantry Marine Research Station using asparagopsis armata, a strand of Irish seaweed. It’s believed that this could be the key to reducing methane emissions by as much as 40pc to 98pc.

Seaweed reduces the level on methane in the atmosphere | Methane can be dangerous for the environment | Seaweed can be grown in two ways

feeding cows seaweed

Seaweed reduces the level on methane in the atmosphere

We know that most cows chew the cud, but by replacing this with seaweed, it could stop them from burping methane out into the atmosphere. As well as offering seaweed to cows, it could also be given to goats and sheep, who are major contributors to greenhouse gases on the planet. Just a spoonful of seaweed each day could majorly assist with this issue, which was reported in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent report.

This research was originally carried out with tropical Australian seaweed, but the Irish plant contains similar properties. During the summer, tests have been taking place to ensure enough seaweed can be produced to feed the cattle with growing seaweed lines in the sea. This research was inspired by the Australian study with tropical species of seaweed, which help to reduce the methane emissions in cows. They have the same active ingredient that’s found in all seaweed, called bromoform. But in asparagopsis, it has over 400 times more than even the next highest type of seaweed. Therefore, it can change the bacteria within a cow’s stomach, which is what produces the methane in the first place.

Methane can be dangerous for the environment

Methane is believed to be up to 86 times more potent for global warming than carbon dioxide, so reducing the production of this chemical would greatly help with global warming. Dr. Maguire is currently growing the seaweed to use in animal trials to ensure they have enough biomass. They are harvesting and then storing the stock ready for the upcoming trials. They want to ensure that it’s growing in a way that will make enough to offer the animals a daily dose of the seaweed.

feeding cows seaweed

Seaweed can be grown in two ways

The seaweed can be grown in two ways, which include the free-living stage or planting it to long-lines. They are experimenting to find out how it grows under different temperatures, lights, and with various nutrients. As it’s quite easy to grow and it grows back quickly like the grass, it’s certainly an exciting development. It’s a nearshore plant, so it can easily be found around the coast in shallow water. Seaweed is excellent at fighting disease and act as their own natural sunblock. They’ve evolved so much over time and can be used in many ways by humans.

The biggest challenge of the experiment will be supply levels, and they’ll have to convince other people to grow it to have a long-term solution. It’s still a new market, but they expect people to be keen to help when they see the results of the trials. The team is hoping that the trial on animals will begin by next year, and they’ll work with an animal feed company that can add it to feed. Alternatively, they could teach farmers to grow seaweed in tanks, but this would require light, seawater, and nutrients to get started. Seaweed also absorbs CO2 during its growth, helping to keep the atmosphere cleaner.

Seaweed is so often forgotten by farmers and individuals in the world today, but it offers many great benefits. It’s one of the top carbon sinks on the planet, and it also assists with greenhouse gas emissions. We are excited to see this research continue and hope that animal trials will take place in Ireland next year.

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