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Bovaer could help reduce cattle methane emissions

Just a quarter teaspoon of Bovaer per bovine per day could reduce cattle methane emissions by about 30 percent.

The feed additive is approved for marketing in the European Union for dairy cows, when included in the EU registry.

DSM, the Dutch-based multinational corporation that makes the product, said 200 dairy farms in The Netherlands are using Bovaer.



The product is approved for marketing in over 40 countries, including Australia, EU/EEA, Brazil, Chile Switzerland, and more.

Companies such as Danone in Belgium, Arla Foods in Denmark, Sweden and Germany are using or have endorsed the product, according to DSM.



Bovaer is a fine powder, not related to the seaweed product that has been shown to reduce methane emissions in ruminants.

Sara Place, with Colorado State University’s AgNext sustainability initiative, said Bovaer was initially produced by DSM, a European company. Elanco has recently announced a partnership with DSM to market and produce the product, which has not been approved by the FDA in the United States.

“There hasn’t been anything like this in the US, yet,” she says.

Because the product is in regulatory review, representatives from DSM were unable to answer questions about it.

The product is composed of a molecule – 3 nitrooxypropanol, or 3 nop for short.

“It is really targeted toward reducing methane emissions, explained Place.

As for how this occurs, Place said “it’s complicated,” but explained, “There are some microbes in the rumen that make methane. They have their own set of pathways of how they make energy. This molecule blocks an enzyme in that process of how those little bugs make energy. It targets them specifically. That’s why we see methane reductions in peer reviewed literature for this product,” she said.

No negatives side effects have been recorded in approximately 50 peer reviewed articles.

“It’s quite specialized in what it does. It targets that one enzyme,” she said.

So far the product has been researched on higher roughage backgrounding diets and finishing diets. There is also extensive literature based on dairy cattle studies. In both situations, it was administered daily in a total mixed ration, she said.

Frank M Mitloehner, Professor and Air Quality Extension Specialist at UC-Davis, said the Bovaer product has been shown to only be active in the digestive canal. “When it’s excreted, it’s no longer in it’s active form. It’s not going into the blood or any organs, so it stays in the digestive canal until being excreted,” he said.

Because of this, there shouldn’t be any affect on the meat from the cattle that consume it, he said.

He himself has never fed the product to cattle or seen cattle that have been consuming it.

The purpose of methane is to help take hydrogen out of the rumen, he said. “If you reduce methane at 30-40 percent, then you still have enough methane to get rid of hydrogen, but if you reduce it by 80 percent, then you have a buildup of hydrogen in the rumen, which can affect performance,” he said.

Too much hydrogen in the system could result in reduced feed intake, he believes. “This is because of the changes of pH and appetite. That can affect digestion, and most likely would affect feed intake,” he said.

But feeding at recommended levels isn’t expected to cause this problem.

Mitloehner said it’s possible cattle will become more efficient by reducing the amount of methane they emit. “Depending on the animal type, you can lose about 10 percent of energy you feed to the animal through methane emission. When an animal expels methane, it expels energy. If you get rid of less methane, you have more energy available to do other things,” he said.

Elanco did not respond to questions about the cost or potential availability of the product in the United States.