Insight on Livestock Methane Mitigation
Cows and other ruminant animals produce enteric methane as part of their natural digestive process. This methane is the single largest source of direct greenhouse gases in the beef and dairy sectors. As the global demand for animal products, such as milk and meat, is expected to increase by more than 60% in the coming decades, livestock production will need to expand as well, further increasing enteric methane emissions. Reducing these emissions is critical to slowing the effects of climate change while also helping the dairy and beef sectors meet their sustainability goals. However, more research is needed to determine how to safely, sustainably and productively reduce the amount of methane cows produce.
In this episode of Ash Cloud, Dr. Roderick Mackie, professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (University of Illinois), discusses his international research study on how diets and different additives affect hydrogen production and utilization in the rumen of both beef and dairy cattle and how these changes in hydrogen dynamics affect the amount of enteric methane produced. His research is funded by a $2,494,394 grant from the Greener Cattle Initiative (GCI), a multi-partner international consortium investing in research mitigating enteric methane.
The team has six hubs spread across the USA, New Zealand, Canada, Europe, Israel and Australia. Further conversations with key researchers from the team can be found below:
- Sharon Huws -Hydrogen warfare in the rumen – the source of livestock methane emissions, Queens University, Belfast
- Itzik Mizrahi – Microbial good guys and bad guys, and their duplicitous nature, Ben Gurion University of the Negev
- Athol Klieve – Learning from nature how to eliminate livestock methane emissions, University of Queensland
- Matthias Hess – Ruminant Methane Production, UC Davis”
More Published Information on This Topic
The two key papers published in conjunction with AgResearch NZ are:
If you inhibit methanogenesis, what are you going to do with the hydrogen that accumulates in that system? What we would like to be able to do is redirect that hydrogen from being a waste of energy.Dr. Rod Mackie
Professor, Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Additional Funding Partners
The following provided additional funding for a total $3,221,254 research investment.
- University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
- University of Alberta
- Norwegian University of Life Sciences
- The Queen’s University of Belfast
- Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
About Ash Cloud
Ash Cloud is a series of conversations discussing global food sustainability with guests who bring a deep understanding of the environmental and cultural challenges facing our society and creative ideas on how to address them. It is hosted by Ash Sweeting.
More About This Grant
Read the September 14, 2023, news announcement about this grant.
About the Greener Cattle Initiative
The Greener Cattle Initiative, launched by the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, is the first consortium to share knowledge, leverage investments and accelerate research to develop scalable and commercially feasible solutions that reduce enteric methane emissions. The Greener Cattle Initiative includes stakeholders from across the dairy and beef value chains and supporting nonprofit organizations including: ADM, the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB), Elanco, Genus plc, the National Dairy Herd Information Association, Nestlé and the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC).
The Global Methane Hub and JBS USA have joined the consortium as steering committee members.