Published on July 2nd, 2009 | by Guest Contributor1
Stonyfield Farm Reduces Greenhouse Gases caused by Cow Burps
Most people associate greenhouse gas emissions with pollution from heavy industry, so it might come as a surprise to know that cows are also a culprit. Each time a cow burps, it releases greenhouse gases known as enteric emissions.
Dairy farmers, such as Vermont based Tim Maikshilo and Kristen Dellert, are keen to reduce their carbon footprint by changing the diet of their cows in order to reduce the amount of gas they burp.
“I just figured a cow was a cow and they were going to do whatever they were going to do in terms of cow things for gas,” Dellert told the Associated Press.<
The change is part of a larger program initiated by environmental pioneer Stonyfield Farm, the world’s leading organic yogurt company, to naturally decrease global warming gases caused by cows’ burps which are also known as enteric emissions.
“This is a watershed moment for the US dairy industry,” said Stonyfield President and CE-Yo Gary Hirshberg. “By changing the feed we give our cows, we can simultaneously reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve milk’s nutritional content in a way that may help reduce cardiovascular disease and obesity.”
The Stonyfield Greener Cow pilot program began in late 2008 with 15 Vermont Organic Valley farms which supply the milk for Stonyfield’s yogurts. The company learned about this approach from its global partner French-based Groupe Danone. Stonyfield had been measuring its carbon footprint for over a decade, and had known milk production was the biggest part of its footprint. While it developed programs for emissions from growing feed for cows, manure, transportation, and farm energy, handling its greatest source of milk emissions, the natural digestion of the cow, was a challenge.
The pilot program works by feeding cows a diet high in natural omega-3 sources, such as alfalfa, flax and grasses. This results in an increase in the milk’s omega-3 content and decrease in the levels of saturated fats. Through intensive, ongoing analysis of the feed and the cow’s milk, the pilot program re-balances the cow’s main stomach or “rumen.” This results in a reduction of the waste by-product methane, a greenhouse gas, which the cows emit primarily through burping.
According to Nancy Hirshberg, Stonyfield V.P. of Natural Resources, the dairy has been able to reduce the enteric emissions from the cows by as much as 18%.
Find out more about Stonyfield Farms at (www.stonyfield.com).