AustriaNews

Healthy Cows Lower Methane Emissions

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Early detection of health issues in dairy cows reduces methane production by up to 15 per cent, a trial of a smart health monitoring system at the HBLFA Raumberg-Gumpenstein agricultural centre in Austria has found.

Researchers at one of the country’s leading research and teaching centres for farming assessed the sensor-based smaXtec Health System which uses bolus technology (in veterinary practice a ‘bolus’ is a large pill or other discrete method of delivering medicine) for its impact in helping farmers detect and treat sick cows sooner. Methane emissions were recorded from each kilo of milk produced.

[P]roactive health management can reduce animal losses, effectively reducing methane emissions in the dairy industry

Dr Thomas Guggenberger who heads Raumberg-Gumpensteinhead’s Institute of Livestock Research, says: “Calculations, based on our own respiration experiments, have shown animals with a longer ‘useful’ life emit less methane per kilogramme of milk at typical breed performance.

“Early detection of disease and proactive health management can reduce animal losses, effectively reducing methane emissions in the dairy industry.”

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Chris Howarth, global sales director at smaXtec, says the findings from the study correlate with Ruminant Health & Welfare’s ‘Acting on methane’ report which shows a 10% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is achievable through improvements to animal health.

He argues methane emissions from cattle are not directly comparable to emissions from fossil fuels as cows’ methane is converted back to carbon dioxide after about twelve years.

But he concedes being able to reduce emissions will help farmers meet government targets, irrespective of natural recycling. 

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