Jul 11, 2009

Dairy Cow Business

You're looking at the business end of the dairy cow, at least when it comes to gas emissions. That's right: the front end of the cow, not the rear end.

It turns out that dairy cow belches are releasing more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than their flatulents. Since the dairy industry is estimated to account for 2% of the greenhouse gases in the US, Tim Maikshilo and his wife, Kristen Dellert, are doing what they can to minimize those belches.

They're doing it by feeding their dairy cows foods and grasses that are high in Omega 3 (alfalfa, flaxseed, etc.), as opposed to the more typical corn or soy.

No one tell my wife about this. If she ever were to find out, I'd find significant changes to my dinner plate tonight.

Thanks for the article, Ida.

Photo source AP Photo/Toby Talbot via Yahoo!


Unknown said...

Um,'DIARY' cow? Do they keep logs on how much gas they release?

That cows burp lots of gas from the front is not too surprising, considering all the cud action they do.

Anonymous said...

Dear Diary, today I belched and farted a little less than yesterday. I think it's probably the new grasses they're feeding me. Oh, it's milking time! Gotta go! Write more later! Love, Daisy

Raging Wombat said...

Dangit! Diary cow! I've fixed it.

And, Bonni, that's hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Cow guts are adapted to digest grass, not corn and soy. Feeding them corn and soy (which are cheap due to subsidies) makes them gassy and sick.

Anonymous said...

(In David Attenborough voice:)

Here in exotic Flemington, NJ we are privileged to spot the rare diary cow. Rumored to exist for centuries by local farmers, their existence was confirmed less than a decade ago when one was shown on YouTube scribbling in her Moleskine.

Notice the elegant penmanship and long pauses for thought before recording her innermost thoughts...oh, oh, she's spotted us.

(Cow drops diary and daintily pushes it under a rock with her hoof)

Cow looks around dumbly: Moo!

David Attenborough: And as it so often goes, the face of nature's mystery is hidden from us one again. But we are far richer for even glimpsing the majesty of her hidden realm.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone ever think that these belches release what was recently captured by the plants in the first place? If these plants weren't grown for feed where would the carbonic that were captured be? If these cows didn't eat, what would happen as these plants decayed? If they don't burp it up, it will remain in the feces. What happens as the feces festers?

This always sounds to me like people imagine these carbonic gasses just appear out of nowhere. Yes, I know that different gaseous carbon compounds have different heat-trapping properties, but somehow, I don't think it's what they present it to be.

Raging Wombat said...

I can speak with absolutely zero authority in regards to a cow's digestive processes. The same goes for the decaying processes of uneaten corn and soy. However, I don't think we can assume that while the former results in a greenhouse gas that the latter process would as well. And it should be that as the demand for corn and soy for dairy cows goes down, so will the supply of corn and soy -- or else prices will plummet, luring even more cattle ranchers to feed their cattle corn and soy.

Regardless, I think the real answer here is that we need to find a way to harvest cow belches and find an industrial application for them.

Anonymous said...

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