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Stonyfield Targets Cow Burps for Emissions Reductions

cows2Organic dairy Stonyfield Farm has found a way to reduce methane emissions 12 percent by adjusting the cattle feed mix so it produces fewer burps.

As a side benefit, the new cattle feed, which is high in omega-3 sources like alfalfa, flax and grasses, results in 29 percent more omega-3 content in the milk, as well as fewer saturated fats. Stonyfield is seizing on the double benefit in a new marketing campaign, “The Greener Cow.”

According to Stonyfield Farm, as much as 5-10-percent of human-induced greenhouse emissions worldwide are the result of enteric emissions, or burbs, from cattle and other ruminating animals.

Stonyfield happened upon the idea from its French partner Groupe Danone, which is using the process as well. Stonyfield says it expects Danone to roll out the process globally.

In certain cases, Stonyfield Farm has been able to reduce cattle emissions as much as 18 percent, but the average is 12 percent.

As an example of a typical dairy farm’s emissions, here is a breakdown by source:

  • enteric emissions (burbs) – 38 percent
  • feed production – 34 percent
  • manure – 23 percent
  • farm electricity – 3 percent
  • milk and feed transport – 2 percent

View a video about the project here.

Stonyfield Farm is among several international dairy producers that is seeking to lower its carbon footprint.

Fonterra, a dairy in New Zealand, undertook an extensive survey of its greenhouse gas emissions, according to foodbev.com.

In its case, Fonterra found that 85 percent of associated GHG emissions came on the farm, with 10 percent coming from processing/manufacturing and another 5 percent from distribution.

By 2020, by focusing in part on improving cattle feed, the U.S. dairy industry as a whole hopes to cut by 25 percent annual greenhouse gas emissions related to the production of fluid milk, according to the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, which represents nearly 70 percent of the dairy supply chain. The center says such a reduction is equivalent to removing 1.25 million cars from the road.

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