Kangaroo Fecal Microbes Could Reduce Methane from Cows
Published:01 Mar.2023    Source:Washington State University
After researchers added the baby kangaroo culture and a known methane inhibitor to the simulated stomach, it produced acetic acid instead of methane. Unlike methane, which cattle discard as flatulence, acetic acid has benefits for cows as it aids muscle growth. The researchers published their work in the journal Biocatalysis and Agricultural Biotechnology.
"Methane emissions from cows are a major contributor to greenhouse gases, and at the same time, people like to eat red meat," said Birgitte Ahring, corresponding author on the paper and a professor in with the Bioproducts, Sciences and Engineering Laboratory at the WSU Tri-Cities campus. "We have to find a way to mitigate this problem."
Reducing the burps and farts of methane emissions from cattle is no laughing matter. Methane is the second largest greenhouse gas contributor and is about 30 times more potent at heating up the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. More than half of the methane released to the atmosphere is thought to come from the agricultural sector, and ruminant animals, such as cattle and goats, are the most significant contributors. Furthermore, the process of producing methane requires as much as 10% of the animal's energy.

Researchers have tried changing cows' diets as well as giving them chemical inhibitors to stop methane production, but the methane-producing bacteria soon become resistant to the chemicals. They also have tried to develop vaccines, but a cow's microbiome depends on where it's eating, and there are far too many varieties of the methane-producing bacteria worldwide. The interventions can also negatively affect the animals' biological processes.