Researchers in Australia have received funding to develop more digestible feeds for cattle — “burpless” grass, in industry parlance — that result in less methane being produced as they are broken down in cows’ stomach(s).
As a recent returnee to the world of eating meat, I cringe when thinking about the impact raising that meat has on the environment. Here on the TerraPass carbon project team we spend quite a bit of time thinking about what we like to call the “business end” of a cow. TerraPass funds projects that clean up the methane from cow manure, but as it turns out, the natural digestive process in a cow’s many stomachs produces quite a bit more methane than the manure itself. This process, known in industry lingo as enteric fermentation, produces some very significant “methane burps.” Shy of putting some kind of gas mask on the cow, this source of emissions has been treated as largely unmanageable — until now.
This is one of several interesting initiatives originating down under that seek to curb methane emissions from raising animals. Another study is attempting to shed light on why kangaroos are naturally burpless.
Coupled with anaerobic digester projects this strikes us an exciting and potentially holistic approach to mitigating some of the environmental impacts of consuming animal products. It does make you wonder though, to what lengths are we willing to go to continue the consumption of animal products when the easiest solution is just to forego them all together?