A herd of Holstein dairy cows grazing in a meadow and a few wind turbines behind

High versus low methane emitter cows

Joaquín Ventura García & Fernando Diaz

Although farming really produces less than 10% of greenhouse gas emissions, several recently published news point at animal production as one of main polluting sectors. Several attempts have been made to reduce dairy cow methane emissions such as adding plant oils containing high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids or seaweed to the diets. These methods based on the addition of dietary supplements have an immediate effect but only work while the supplement is fed. In comparison to feeding strategies, breeding schemes based in methane emissions level need more time to have an impact, but they are cumulative and permanent.

Greenhouse level emissions is a heritable trait in ruminants and measuring methane production reveals considerable variability among individuals fed the same diet. If these differences would be consistent over time and with different diets, animal breeding might be a successful strategy to reduce methane emissions in dairy cows.

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Would increasing longevity in dairy cows reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Would increasing longevity in dairy cows reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Fernando Díaz

Milk production is often wrongly considered to be a major source of the greenhouse gases (mainly methane) affecting climate change. Researchers from Switzerland evaluated whether increasing the productive life of cows reduces greenhouse gas emissions as it reduces emissions from the rearing of replacement heifers. Moreover, the investigators determined the change in profitability of cows with increasing their productive life.

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