That dairy cow you drove by the other day might seem harmless enough, but she’s adding to global warming.
Sure, one cow might only produce as much as 240 pounds of methane in a year, but multiply that by the 100 million dairy and beef cattle in the U.S., and you get one of the largest producers of methane gas in the country.
Cows burp and cows fart. A lot. Methane is a leading greenhouse gas and contributes to climate change.
Now, an Ohio State University researcher says he might have found a way to curb the problem.
Microbiologist Mark Morrison discovered that certain bacteria in the stomachs of a breed of Australian wallaby greatly reduce the methane gas the animal produces.
His study, published yesterday in the journal Science, focuses on the role the bacteria play in the digestive system of ruminant mammals, which have chambered stomachs for the storage and digestion of grassy foods.
“What is so significant is that the types of products produced (by the bacteria) are not products that would support high levels of methane production,” Morrison said from Australia, where he also does research for the Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organization, Division of Livestock Industries, in Brisbane.
Tammar wallabies, the species Morrison studied, produce about 80 percent less methane than cattle because of these bacteria.