Sunday, September 20, 2009

“Burpless” Cows Attribute Success to Omega 3 Rich Diet

According to this article by the Associated Press, one organic dairy farm in Coventry, Vermont is helping reduce their carbon footprint by modifying the diets of their cows.

After an energy audit in the 1990’s, environmentally progressive Stonyfield Farm was surprised to hear that their dairy farms, not their production factories, were their number one contributor to climate change. The dairy industry as a whole contributes about 2 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions of the U.S. – mostly stemming from methane emission from the cows’ enteric system. Many might think that methane primarily escapes from the rear of the animal, but in reality 95 percent of the pollutant is emitted through bovine burps.

After years of researching, Stonyfield found a solution through its French partner, Groupe Danone. Danone figured the burps originated from a poor diet, and set out to feed the cows better quality grains.

Coventry Valley Farm and 14 other organic farms are working in conjunction with Stonyfield to reduce their cows’ methane production. Coventry Farmers Tim Maikshilo and his wife Kristen Dellert feed their herd a diet consisting of Omega 3 rich grains and grasses such as flaxseed and alfalfa to moderate methane laden burps from the cows.

Another benefit the farmers have found is that their cows are in better general health. The superior grain isn’t even costlier – though it is only a wintertime treat. Grass acquired through grazing during warmer months provides adequate Omega 3’s without any need for supplementation. The Coventry farm has managed to reduce methane emissions by 13 percent, and have also profited from reduced veterinary costs. Other farms have reduced emissions by up to 18 percent.

Healthier cows, of course, mean healthier milk. Milk higher in Omega 3 fats can enhance cardiovascular health among a host of other benefits.

A final advantage to feeding cows nutrient-rich grains is that it will reduce the amount of corn and soy cultivated. As detailed in the incredible documentary “The Future of Food”, many environmentalists and scientists consider bioengineered corn crops (a growing portion of our corn supply), as unsafe for the environment and consumption. Corporate giant Monsanto currently holds a monopoly on seed patents, which they utilize to slowly nudge thousands of small farmers out business.

For more information about the “Greener Cow” project, visit:

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