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Revolutionary method for reducing methane emissions in dairy cows

Dairy cows and other ruminants such as beef cows, sheep, goats, deer and buffalo are capable of fermenting and digesting the cellulose contained in grass. Cows have four compartments to their stomach. The first is called the rumen. It is a giant fermentation vat capable of converting many indigestible fiber sources such as grass and plants to meat and milk. The other compartments include the hardware stomach (reticulum) which traps metal if inadvertently swallowed, the omasum for water absorption and the abomasum, the true stomach similar to ours. Because of this unique characteristic of the ruminant GI tract, these animals are a huge asset to society because of the grass and food byproducts that are readily consumed to be converted into food.

Forty-five percent of the U.S. is comprised of grasslands that aren’t usable for food production. Cows and other ruminants grazing these grasslands convert grass and other plants to high quality protein and energy that are nutritious for humans in the form of meat and milk.

A by-product of grass fermentation is that cows burp excess fermentation gas. A component of their eructations is methane.

Naysayers would have you believe that cows are a bane for the environment because methane from cows allegedly produces climate change. In addition activists claim animal butterfat in milk contributes to poor health in humans. Nothing could be further from the truth about either but those are stories for another day.

My purpose isn’t to get into a debate about nutrition but cite known facts. There is clear-cut evidence that children on vegetarian diets benefit from receiving four ounces daily of high quality animal protein as meat. It will significantly increase IQ scores, playground activity, muscle development and size and stature.*

A nutritional supplement, 3-nitro-oxypropanol, (3NOP) when added to the feed of high-producing dairy cows will reduce methane emissions up to 60%. Independent research both at Penn State and the University of Estadual Maringa in Brazil confirmed the claims by the patent holder, DSM Nutritional Products. Over the course of a 12-week study conducted at Penn State’s dairy barns, cows that consumed a feed regimen supplemented by this novel methane inhibitor, 3NOP, had a reduction in methane generated and gained 80% more bodyweight than cows in a control group. Feed intake and milk production by cows that were fed the supplement did not decrease production. Cows gained weight in addition to a reduction in greenhouse gases belched during early lactation. Weight gain is a huge bonus as dairy cows often lose 200 to 300 pounds of weight in the first 90 days after calving because of high milk production. This new product will have ramifications for global climate change from the livestock sector.

As I sit here and reflect, there could be other applications for 3NOP. Currently it is in the patent process prior to introduction to the dairy industry. If indeed it works well in cows, there could be a tremendous upside market potential. Here are some other opportunities.

  • Passengers be provided a tablet of 3NOP when traveling on airplanes with restrooms.
  • Chili cook-off judges have an occupational hazard so 3NOP might be included as a part of prep for chili tasting.
  • It certainly would take the crude behavior away from junior high boys that seek to outdo each other.
  • 3NOP would be a natural supplement for weight lifters.
  • I bet the quarterback on the football team would provide a supply to his center.
  • Get ‘Er Done comedian Larry the Cable guy could make a “windfall” by advertising 3NOP in addition to Prilosec.
  • Aunt Suzy might slip some of this stuff into her gourmet baked bean and onion casserole but she probably should be warned that it could cause the nieces and nephews to gain weight.
  • And lastly a certain pharmacist in our town after playing volleyball several years ago at the church picnic picked up the name Tooter. It would have saved him from embarrassment and the nickname.

This 3NOP product could be a ”win(d)-win” situation for climate change!


*S. Whaley et. al., The Impact of Dietary Intervention on the Cognitive Development of Kenyan School Children, The American Society for Nutritional Sciences 2003


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