Posted by: ShawnC | June 29, 2009

I Beg Your Pardon? Breeding Cows to Burp Less

When a kid burps, it’s at worst a case of bad manners.

But when a cow burps, the consequences are more serious.

The reason?

Cow burps contribute to global warming.

At least that’s what some scientists say.

That’s why Canadian researchers at the University of Alberta are trying to breed cows that burp less.

No, we’re not making this up.

According to Reuters news service, a group called Environment Canada claims cows are responsible for nearly 3/4 of all methane emissions.

Methane is one of those greenhouse gases – gases that keep heat from escaping the Earth’s atmosphere and cause the planet to heat up.

By breeding cows that burp less, scientists say we can help reduce global warming.

How much?

“If every US dairy farmer reduced (methane) emissions by 12%, it would be equal to about half-a-million cars being taken off the road,” said Nancy Hirshberg of New Hampshire-based Stonyfield Farm, in an interview with Reuters.

Stonyfield is reportedly taking another approach to cutting methane emissions from burping cows.

It says it’s having its farmers add alfalfa, flax or hemp to their usual livestock feed, according to Reuters.

The end result: higher quality feed that’s easier to digest – and fewer burps.

Coventry Valley Farm in Coventry, Vermont, is one of the farms affiliated with Stonyfield Farm.

According to the Associated Press (AP), the cows at Coventry Valley are now burping 13% less than before, thanks to the addition of alfalfa, flax and grasses to their feed.

“(Before,) I just figured a cow was a cow,” said Kristen Dellert of Coventry Valley, in an interview with the AP. “And they were going to do whatever they were going to do in terms of cow things for gas.”

Now, Dellert says, not only do her cows burp less, they also have shinier coats and fewer foot problems.

“It also increases the nutritional quality of the milk by increasing the omega 3 (fatty acids),” Hirshberg told Fox News. “The cows love it. The farmers love it. It’s better for consumers.”

And that’s nothing to burp at.


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