Scientists are working hard to make cows, sheep, and goat farts less harmful to the planet . In 2015 agricultural researchers fed sheep seaweed, and as a result, their farts and belches contained 70 percent less methane. In 2016, another group gave garlic to cows and found a 50 percent reduction in methane. There are 1.5 billion cows in the world, chewin’, belchin’, fartin’ and poopin’, and each cow can produce up to 500 liters of methane per day! That’s comparable to the amount of methane from an average car. Once in the atmosphere, methane helps keep the planet warm, making it one of the major culprits behind climate change. Reducing methane can drastically affect climate change. In the wild, cows would eat grasses and a bit of grain. They break down all that grass with the help of microorganisms called archaea in their four-chambered stomachs. Some of the archaea produce methane — those are called methanogens. This also applies to other animals that have chambered stomachs, like sheep and goats — more methanogens, more methane! To reduce the number of methanogens, agricultural researchers have tried selective breeding and feeding animals fats and starches to help curb their farting.
These methods did not work as well as feeding cows garlic and onions. There’s a problem though… if you give a cow an onion, it’s going to produce onion flavored milk. And this is the case with other strong flavors like garlic. And for most milk-drinkers, garlic milk or onion milk probably don’t sound too appealing. So even though we know these stinky foods reduce the methane… the flavor of the milk stops us from putting it into practice. One study has proved promising. Scientists in Spain fed cows low levels of propyl propane thiosulfonate, the compound in onions which gives them their strong flavor. By giving them 25 grams per day of PTSO, they could inhibit methanogens and keep the milk mostly tasty. Only 12.5 percent of milk tasters sensed onion… The researchers joked the garlic milk might be good for the french cheese industry, but for now, this is still a work in progress. And as global warming accelerates, be sure scientists will keep working to cut back on the amount of methane ballooning from the bowels our bovine buddies..