When English cows are happy, English diary farmers are happy, and these days, in Merrie Olde England, both cows and farmers are happy campers. Cows are giving more milk, digesting better and breaking wind less often which means<tah dah> up to 40% less methane gas emitted into the air, which, in turn, means less global warming.
The farmers are accomplishing this happy feat, according to an article in the Telegraph, by feeding the cows a special health food diet containing linseed. The linseed makes the cow digestive system so healthy that belching and flatulence are greatly reduced and general animal health is greatly increased. Now that is what I call doing well by doing good. Why are dairy framers everywhere not on board with this?
According to the Telegraph:
“…feeding cattle linseed can reduce the amount of methane by up to 40 per cent, according to studies presented at the British Society of Animal Science annual conference
The linseed encourages the growth of good bacteria in the cow’s stomach whilst rejecting the type of bacteria that produces methane.
It is the same linseed sold in health food shops to aid human digestion and is from a pretty blue flower grown in the British countryside.”
Now, we can make all the jokes we want about cow farts and burps, but consider this. Methane (CH4), a particularly potent greenhouse gas, has about 25 times the planet warming power of CO2 and lingers in the atmosphere for up to 15 years.
On the plus side, methane is a component of natural gas and can be harnessed and burned as fuel, but so far cow flatulence has not proved an effective way of harnessing the energy potential of methane. In fact, by some measures, cows and cars are about the same in their greenhouse gas production effects on the environment
Thus if English farmers can lower their cows’ methane emissions by 40% simply by including linseed in their feed, this is the kind of simple, down to earth measure that it would make sense to employ all over the world. Since it seems that the linseed has some side effects like improved bovine health and increased milk supply , I’m hoping dairy farmers everywhere will soon be including linseed in their cattle feed.
Those happy English dairy cows have a lot to teach the world.