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A very first methane-reducing feed additive for cattle authorized in Canada

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Mar12,2024

Methane emissions from livestock represent 3.3% of greenhouse gases produced in Canada, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

A first-ever methane-reducing feed additive for cattle authorized in Canada

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Bovaer can reduce methane production by 45% in beef cattle, according to the firm dsm-firmenich.

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A very first food additive intended to reduce methane production by cattle will enter the Canadian market in the coming weeks. This is the first product of its kind approved for use in Canada.

Currently, Bovaer powder supplement is authorized in almost 60 countries and, as of about a month ago, by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

According to the Swiss company dsm-firmenich, it can reduce the methane production of beef cattle by 45%, on average. For dairy cows, emissions can be reduced by 30%, it says on its website.

In 2021, the agricultural sector was responsible for 31% of total methane emissions in Canada, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada. Methane from cattle feed, called enteric methane, caused the majority of its emissions.

In one year, a dairy cow produces an amount of methane equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions emitted by an average car that travels 20,000 kilometers.

A quote from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

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In Canada, researchers have been looking at enteric methane reduction for over 20 years. It was about ten years ago that the chemical compound 3NOP, the active ingredient in Bovaer, began to be studied.

In 2020, Karen Beauchemin, a researcher at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, worked with the federal agency's research station where, for two years, she tested Bovar on 15,000 beef cattle in Alberta.

For the ruminant feeding expert, the results of the study qualify the development of the feed additive as a truly revolutionary discovery.

We have always had the hypothesis that if we reduced methane emissions it would have a negative impact on feed digestibility, because methane is a way for the cow to remove excess hydrogen from the rumen [the first of the four stomachs of ruminants, Editor's note], explains Karen Beauchemin.

However, what we see is that there has other ways of using hydrogen that eliminate excess, reducing emissions by 30, 40, 50% without negative effects on the cow.

In all studies there was no negative impact on the digestibility of the food, except that in some cases we noted a slight improvement in digestibility.

A quote from Karen Beauchemin, Researcher, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

As the additive is rapidly metabolized by the cow, the chemical compound is degraded in the process digestive and is not found in milk or meat, as the researcher specifies.

Despite these promising results, Bovaer is not authorized in the United States at this time.

Karen Beauchemin says the caution from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is linked to the fact that it is the first product in this category to receive approval.

No other food additives have been approved for methane reduction. […] I think there's a lot of head scratching and they're not sure how to deal with a compound like that.

Beyond the effectiveness of Bovaer, the specialist believes that there remain unknowns. I don't know how much it will cost, but it will definitely have a price, she says.

How will this work for consumers? Are we ready to pay more for our milk?

A quote from Karen Beauchemin, researcher, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

As a society “I think we really need to sit down and have a very important conversation, because I think farmers want to do what's good for the environment,” she argues.

Manitoba Beef Producers General Manager Carson Callum calls the upcoming arrival of Bovaer very good news.

The fact that this particular product is now approved gives the industry another tool in the box to achieve industry goals by 2030, he says.

The Canadian beef industry has set a goal of reducing the intensity of its greenhouse emissions by 33% by 2030. Dairy Farmers of Canada is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050.

Beef industry 'on track' to meet environmental goals

However, Carson Callum believes that it will be necessary to ensure that the cost does not fall on producers. It is really important that producers' bottom lines are not impacted deeply and that they see the benefits that using this product has for their business.

He hopes that the use of the product will be eligible for carbon credits. We have seen carbon credit program projects that integrate the use of tools like this to encourage or encourage producers to use them without them suffering the consequences, he said. example.

While this is an important step forward in reducing emissions from the agricultural sector, the ambitious environmental targets of the industry can only be achieved by using several tools, as Karen Beauchemin and Carson Callum believe.

As Bovaer must be mixed with grain, it cannot be used on grazing herds at this time.

Other avenues of research show promise for the reduction of enteric methane, estimates Karen Beauchemin.

She concludes by saying that the genetic selection of animals with low emissions, vaccination and the use of different foods, such as red algae, could open up new avenues in the coming years.

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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