Cows are one of the foremost producers of methane gas – a gas that that has over 20 times the potential of carbon dioxide to cause global warming.
Researchers at Penn State University spent nearly six years examining herbs and natural solutions to the methane problem, and they have finally found that oregano may reduce methane production. To put it bluntly, oregano may reduce greenhouse gas producing cow farts.
When a cow digests its food, fermentation breaks down the food into usable nutrients, with by-products of carbon dioxide and methane.
When an oregano-based supplement was given to the cows, it was shown that methane gas production was reduced. This is great news for the planet, but there is also another perk: the amount of milk that the cows produced increased.
The increase in milk production makes sense, because even though methane is a by-product, it still takes energy from the cow to produce it. Without the production of excess methane, the cows seemed to be able to use the extra energy to produce milk.
There appear to be no ill-effects associated with the oregano supplement. It is planned to continue with the research to verify the results and also to determine exactly which compounds in oregano are reducing methane. The aim is to be able to produce pure substances (rather than feeding the cattle oregano directly) because pure substances are easier and cheaper to produce commercially.
If commercialized, this product could be a viable option for reducing pollution caused by livestock.
Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons by JelleS