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Warming cows

Cows and sheep grazing in a meadow is a beautiful image and some would say natural, but it has a thorn in the side as cows burp and belch emits greenhouse gases. Ruminants belch carbon dioxide (CO₂) and nitrogen oxide (N2O), but more than that, cows like other ruminants belch methane (CH₄) which is a greenhouse gas 28% more active than carbon dioxide

A herd of cows in the dry land of Burkina Faso. From Wikipedia
A herd of cows in the dry land of Burkina Faso. From Wikipedia


Cows and sheep grazing in a meadow is a beautiful image and some would say natural, but it has a thorn in the side as cows burp and belch emits greenhouse gases. Ruminants belch carbon dioxide (CO₂) and nitrogen oxide (N2O), but more than that, cows like other ruminants belch methane (CH₄) which is a greenhouse gas 28% more active than carbon dioxide.


Every burp of a ruminant raises the temperature and contributes to global warming. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), migratory animals and especially farm animals such as sheep and cattle cause 14% of all greenhouse gas emissions, with most of the gases being emitted by belching.


Recognizing and understanding the situation causes scientists to look for options for developing animals that will belch less methane, whether by adjusting the food, by developing breeds that will belch less, or by planting trees in pastures, the trees absorb greenhouse gases and thus compensate for the belching emissions.


Grazing animals made their home about 10.000 years ago and little has changed since then, it's time to improve and upgrade. To this end, there is an initiative by Bezoar Laboratories to develop a probiotic supplement, developed bacteria or yeast that will be given as a food supplement and will work in the digestive system

To reduce methane production, initial trials with the probiotic supplement showed a 50% decrease in methane belching.


In New Zealand, after about a decade of research and repeated cross-breeding, a company (New Zealand's AgResearch) succeeded in developing sheep that belch 10% less methane. - 10 million sheep. The same team is now busy researching cattle and reindeer. When agriculture in New Zealand accounts for about half of all the country's greenhouse gas emissions, efforts are being made to reach a situation where agriculture will be neutral in emissions.


In India there is a project to increase the milk yield of cows and buffaloes by using a feeding program that will allow the appropriate "personal" feeding according to the physical profile of each animal. According to the profile, the software adjusts a suitable diet and mineral supplementation. The customized "personal" diet caused an increase in milk yield and a decrease of about 14% in methane emissions. In the last five years, the program was implemented in farms with about 2.5 million cows and buffaloes.


In Kenya, scientists are testing species of pasture grasses to improve the breeding of animals species of pasture grasses that will reduce emissions relative to the production of milk or meat. The cows are tested in a breathing chamber where the methane emissions are measured after they have eaten different types of food that are available in East Africa, the results are expected in the middle of 2019 and then the researchers will have to convince the farmers and shepherds to switch to suitable types of food because "if you have a healthy cow that is properly fed it has a chance of surviving major droughts" .


Farmers in Latin America are trying the "shaded pasture" method (agroforestry) or (ilvopastoralism). Planting trees in the pastures, the trees provide shade for the animals, improve soil quality and biological diversity. There are trees that can be food additives, but above all the trees that absorb carbon dioxide offset and compensate for the emissions.

According to the spokeswoman of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), by improving the productivity of farm animals, it is possible to reduce methane emissions by 30%. The organization is developing a network (communication) that will allow farmers and researchers to calculate how changes in diet affect emissions.


When more and more consumers are aware of environmental problems, ruminants are slandered and slandered as negative factors because of the emissions and because of the large areas that are required to grow them, the criticism is mainly directed against huge farms for raising beef cattle that cause emissions of about 40% of all the raising of farm animals,


The Greenpeace organization warns that the continued increase in the consumption of meat and dairy products will harm the Paris Agreements to stop global warming. The organization calls for cutting the production and consumption of meat and milk in half by 2050. But such a reading ignores indigenous populations of shepherds in Asia, Africa and South America, shepherds whose lives depend on their herds. Consumers in rich countries have the option and the right to reduce meat consumption, but there are societies and populations where animal food is the main thing and there is no substitute for it. In those populations, animals have additional uses such as carrying loads, transporting water, plowing, producing fertilizer, etc.

That is why there is a need for a balance between the meat consumers in rich countries and those whose main source of existence is farm animals. Also, a balance must be made between countries such as Australia, the USA and Argentina, where they consume about 100 kg of meat per year, and countries where they consume only four kg.


We in Israel are in the "honorable" place in the consumption of about 86 kg per year, of which 56 kg is chicken and the rest is mainly beef, which places us among the first carnivores in the world.

As a direct continuation, may I (the little one) suggest that: the meat eaters in Western countries and also in Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and others will reduce meat consumption to a third and thus grow less, reduce methane emissions and destroy less natural areas.

To this, of course, is added everything implied by my permanent "motto" - the time has come that instead of controlling the environment for the sake of the human population, there should be control of the human population for the sake of the environment.

More of the topic in Hayadan:

7 תגובות

  1. Grazing in the meadow? Yes, in the same meadow, and with density and that is the problem - infrastructure damage:
    There are no longer huge herds like the buffalo that, during their migration along the temperature lines, trampled dry grasses at exactly the right time and would shit and urinate and fertilize the ground and trample again and produce great compost that accelerates savannah vegetation and forestry and fertilizes the soil and allows it to store water in the aquifer, thus helping to curb the spread of desertification. Restoring healthy ecosystems will transport carbon back to the soil from which it came, therefore trees as much as possible and not just a tree next to a bench, these are the entire ecosystem and the interrelationships that occur in the environment.

  2. And what about the humans?
    They also burp, (and sometimes also fart),
    And there are almost 8 billion of them in the world.
    Perhaps it is possible to develop some kind of medicine, something like charcoal pellets, that will absorb the methane gas (CH4) that is formed in the intestine and which we emit.
    Thus, jobs will be added, and methane emissions will also decrease.

  3. Asaf
    You may be right that there is something destructive about the "justice" of my claim. Which does not take anything away from her willingness. And so it is wrong to throw solutions in the air without understanding their consequences. There is also something very destructive in your proposal.
    It's nice to say "I prefer the environment over the economy"
    But in practice with a failed economy it is impossible to really preserve the environment. It is impossible to invest in clean energy or recycling. Trust me you don't want to live in a dysfunctional economy.
    To a non-professional eye something may seem illogical in economics. But that doesn't mean you can cancel everything with a wave of hands without really understanding and learning.
    What's more, there doesn't seem to be a real need to encourage a decrease in birth rates, certainly not in developed countries, on the contrary. At least in the matter of food, it is enough to reduce waste and take steps (not even radical ones) to encourage the consumption of plant protein over animal protein. An international convention should be written to stop government encouragement for the consumption of animal food. Cessation of price controls and subsidies in the first stage. The second step is the imposition of a pollution tax on those industries and the prohibition of cruel practices aimed at financial savings (overcrowding of animals without the ability to move, for example). The third thing is the imposition of price controls on animal food substitutes.

  4. א
    "The Economist"?
    You're right, I know little about economics.
    But I understand that today most of the economy is based
    On the "culture" of consumption (originating in the USA), an unnecessary and offensive "culture",
    Add to that the fact that a healthy environment is not a derivative of that "culture",
    I am against damage and destruction of the natural environment for the sake of economic ventures,
    I am in favor of leaving a healthy natural environment for future generations,
    Then maybe you will realize that the "justice" in your claims is destructive...

  5. Asaf
    Too bad you don't have even a faint knowledge of economics.
    Perhaps she would have understood the consequences of reducing the birth rate.
    In the first stage it leads to an economic jump. (A person for example comes from a family of five siblings, even if he has only one child. He has a lot of disposable income, he only has to take care of half a child - he and his wife - and the parental burden is shared among many siblings)
    Next comes a deep recession.
    The economy is straining under the burden of a growing percentage of the elderly population.
    Go see what's happening in Japan. The government is trying to do everything to encourage childbirth. and without success. Japan has been in an economic recession for years. The economy is not growing and even on the verge of contraction. Japanese are working more and more and are not able to meet the cost of living from Amir due to lack of workers.
    China is also on the brink of an economic abyss. And she understands that and now she changes direction from restricting childbirth to encouraging childbirth.
    It is easiest to throw out slogans without understanding even half of the consequences

  6. Months or years ago I heard about a meat hamburger that was grown in a laboratory (meaning: there was no cow in this equation) and its price was $300.000 => and it was a bit dry and not very tasty...
    Two or three months ago I heard a similar story with 2 small differences:
    * It was delicious (if you believe the judge)
    * It cost $30.000

    This brings me to the following possibility: soon we will all prefer artificial meat to live meat.

    It is likely that in this reality a significant part of the meat industry will disappear and all that will be left of it are shocking videos on YouTube and others.

    I think what I'm trying to say here is: that it's better to develop artificial meat than a sheep with less intestinal problems and harmless belches...

    It might be quite amusing (or sad) to choose between the meat of Google and the (white) meat of Apple.

    One last thing, regarding this matter the elders of the Torah were called to a ruling and it was decided that the aforementioned meat is not meat and all the cases concerning the eye of the goat and its mother are not relevant to the above issue => and here we learn that every corner of Bnei Brak and 100 gates will have chiburgers as if (and maybe) there is no tomorrow.
    And since our wonderful religion is so logical, it should be expected that the (artificial) bacon will be similar - and since it is not meat - it will be possible to decorate the pans of the great rabbis with it.
    Those who were looking for redemption, may find it in these days - which in other places were also called the days of the Messiah (here it comes...)

  7. The real solution is encouraging governments to reduce meat consumption and a gradual transition to plant protein.

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