Research shows feeding cattle seaweed reduces their greenhouse gas emission

The new long-term study could mean more sustainable burgers

Image source: Shutterstock

Image source: Shutterstock

According to new findings from researchers at the University of California, Davis, a bit of seaweed in cattle feed could reduce methane emissions from beef cattle by as much as 82 per cent.

"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 Ermias Kebreab, professor and Sesnon Endowed Chair of the Department of Animal Science and director of the World Food Center. Kebreab conducted the study along with his PhD graduate student Breanna Roque.

Kebreab and Roque are building on their earlier work with dairy cattle, which was the world's first experiment reported that used seaweed in cattle.

Since cattle are the top agricultural source of greenhouse gases, many have suggested people eat less meat to help address climate change.

In the new study, Kebreab and Roque tested whether those reductions were sustainable over time by feeding cows a touch of seaweed every day for five months, from the time they were young on the range through their later days on the feedlot.

Four times a day, the cows ate a snack from an open-air contraption that measured the methane in their breath. The results were clear. Cattle that consumed seaweed emitted much less methane, and there was no drop-off in efficacy over time.

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