Methane-reducing feeding pilot will include 10,000 cows in three European countries

A feed additive with the potential to reduce methane emissions from ruminants by up to 30% will be given to 10,000 dairy cows across Europe as part of a large-scale pilot program aimed at reducing agricultural emissions.

On-farm trials have shown that the new Bovaer feed additive can reduce methane emissions by around 30% while maintaining animal welfare. Three European countries will be included in the on-farm program run by international dairy company Arla in partnership with manufacturer Royal DSM.

Arla Foods estimates an average carbon footprint of 1.15 kg of CO2 equivalent per kg of raw milk, with cows’ digestion of feed accounting for around 40% of this.

The cooperative is ready to pilot the use of Bovaer with 10,000 dairy cows on more than 50 farms in Denmark, Sweden and Germany, ensuring that a diverse group of farms participate in the pilot program.

During on-farm pilots, farmers will receive Bovaer from their feed suppliers and mix it into the feed of their dairy cows. Arla will collect milk samples for analysis and comparison with milk from dairy cows not fed the feed additive.

If preliminary results meet expectations, Arla Foods plans to double the pilot to include 20,000 cows in 2023. Bovaer is currently commercially available in the EU, Brazil, Chile and Australia.

The additive is the product of over 10 years of research and development and has been extensively tested in 14 countries around the world. In the EU, it is the first-ever approved feed additive with an environmental impact, confirming its impact on methane emissions and its safety for animals, consumers and the environment.

It works by suppressing an enzyme that triggers the production of methane in a cow’s digestive system. It takes effect immediately and is safely broken down into compounds already naturally present in a cow’s stomach and is scientifically proven not to affect milk quality.

Just a quarter teaspoon of Bovaer added daily to each cow’s feed will result in a consistent reduction in methane emissions by an average of 30%. This food additive therefore contributes to a significant and immediate reduction in the environmental footprint of meat and dairy products.

Hanne Søndergaard, Executive Vice President of Arla Foods and Head of Agriculture and Sustainability, said: “Climate change requires urgent action, and we believe dairy is part of the solution. The results of our first trials with Bovaer in a research center and on one of our Danish farms are very promising.

“Together with DSM, we are now gaining hands-on on-farm experience applying the feed additive in one of its largest pilot programs to date, and one of Arla’s largest climate projects overall. , with 10,000 cows. It is an excellent example of scientific innovation. solutions and actions we are taking to create a sustainable and resilient future for dairy and I am excited to see how far this will take us. »

Mark van Nieuwland, Vice President of Bovaer at DSM, added: “Leaders from over 100 countries recognize the urgency of reducing methane emissions as they pledged to make a difference at the United Nations Conference. on climate change, COP26, a few months ago.

“The recent IPCC report on the impact of climate change tells us that there is no time to lose when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. .

“Through our scientific innovation and collaboration, we can help dramatically reduce emissions by changing the foods animals eat every day and, in doing so, support the health of animals, people and the planet.”