Daffodil extract fed to cows could make a significant contribution to reducing methane production | Science and technology news


Scientists say daffodils could hold the key to more sustainable animal husbandry and say lab tests have shown promise.

Adding an extract from the flowers to cattle feed reduced methane levels in artificial cow stomachs by 96%.

A team of researchers at Scotland’s Rural College hopes it could reduce methane emissions by at least 30% by testing real cows.

A four-year trial program is now beginning on farms across the UK.

On his farm in Powys, Kevin Stephens raises cattle and grows daffodils.

Farmer Kevin Stephens said it could make a “huge difference” to the livestock industry

He was part of the team that developed the science behind the new pet food.

“We originally started growing daffodils to make an Alzheimer’s drug, but we discovered that the daffodils also produce a compound that stops ruminants from producing methane,” he said.

“So the chance to combine the two things was too good an opportunity to pass up.”

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For farmers like him, finding a way to make their farming more sustainable could be crucial.

“This could make a big difference for the livestock industry,” he said.

Narcissus extracts reduced methane in artificial cow stomachs by 96%

“There are governments around the world that are currently attempting to reach net zero by either taxing livestock farmers or imposing quotas on the number of livestock that can be kept as a result of this methane by-product.

“It gives us a very real chance to change this story.”

It is estimated that half of the country’s methane emissions come from cows.

And globally, livestock production produces around 14% of the world’s greenhouse gases.

Professor C Jamie Newbold
Professor Jamie Newbold hopes the project will be part of a solution to methane emissions

Professor Jamie Newbold, Professor of Animal Sciences at Scotland’s Rural College, said: “Our new project has three main phases.

“First, developing a supply chain for daffodils and extracting the chemicals from daffodils. Second, to test that the additive is safe for both animals and humans, and finally, to work with our partner farmers in England and Wales to prove that the additive is effective in reducing methane production and feed costs for dairy cattle.

“This is critical as greenhouse gases and global warming are major global challenges and we hope our project will be part of the solution to reducing the role of ruminants in methane production.”

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