UC Davis Testing Seaweed Cattle Feed

In this video, Jane Wells visits with Ermias Kebreab, Ph.D, of UC Davis, and grad student Mallory Honan, who show what they’re putting in cattle feed to try to reduce methane output. They’re determining if the cows like it, and how it affects the taste of milk and beef.

UC Davis began researching cattle feed additives a few years ago. They thought curry might help reduce methane emissions. It didn’t. Lemongrass worked in Mexico, but not in California. (note: Lemongrass from Fresno is not the same as “tropical” lemongrass.)

And then there’s seaweed.

In 2019, Dr. Ermias’ team selected 21 beef cattle and began putting in their feed some special seaweed from Australia. At first, they added up to 1% of the cattle feed — but the cows didn’t like it. They ate less, and that’s bad for business. The sweet spot for adding seaweed ended up between 0.25% and 0.5% of the total feed.

After five months of eating the new feed, that tiny amount of seaweed reduced the beef cattle’s methane output by 80%.

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