. Energy News .

Feeding cows natural plant extracts can reduce dairy farm odors and feed costs
by Staff Writers
Denver CO (SPX) Sep 06, 2011

The ammonia problem originates with the nitrogen-rich protein in cow feed. Cows' digestive systems are inefficient, and barely one-third of the nitrogen in their feed ends up in milk. The rest exits in urine and feces. The nitrogen in urine is in the form of urea, and enzymes contained in cow manure on the barn floor quickly convert it into ammonia gas.

With citizens' groups seeking government regulation of foul-smelling ammonia emissions from large dairy farms, scientists have reported that adding natural plant extracts to cow feed can reduce levels of the gas by one-third while reducing the need to fortify cow feed with expensive protein supplements. They reported here at the 242nd National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

J. Mark Powell, Ph.D., described the results of three studies undertaken to determine how adding plant substances called "tannins" to cow feed affects the emission of ammonia from dairy barn floors and farm fields fertilized with mixtures of cow manure and urine.

"For dairy farms, cow urine is the source of the ammonia emission problem," said Powell, who is with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

"Dairy cows excrete large amounts of urine, about 3.5 gallons daily for each cow. That's almost 1,300 gallons per year. And there are about 10 million dairy cows in the United States alone. Cows usually are fed a high-protein diet, and they produce various nitrogen compounds when they digest protein. They release the excess nitrogen mainly in their urine, and enzymes convert it into ammonia."

Ammonia has an acrid, eye-tearing odor and has potential adverse health effects on both cows and humans. Citizens' groups several months ago petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to begin regulating ammonia under the Clean Air Act, intensifying the search for practical, inexpensive ways to reduce emissions of the noxious gas. Besides its pungent odor, ammonia adds to air pollution, forming particles that travel long distances and contribute to environmental issues such as smog, acid rain and nutrient pollution.

The ammonia problem originates with the nitrogen-rich protein in cow feed. Cows' digestive systems are inefficient, and barely one-third of the nitrogen in their feed ends up in milk. The rest exits in urine and feces. The nitrogen in urine is in the form of urea, and enzymes contained in cow manure on the barn floor quickly convert it into ammonia gas.

Tannins apparently reduce urea production by allowing more protein to escape digestion in the stomach and enter the cow's intestines, where it's used to produce milk protein.

Powell began investigating tannins in animal feed 20 years ago in West African communities where he lived and worked. Tannin-rich shrubs were grown as windbreaks to reduce soil erosion and to feed livestock.

Tannins also are a key part of the diets of cattle, sheep and goats in tropical areas where vegetation tends to be naturally higher in the astringent plant chemicals. However, tannins have attracted relatively little attention elsewhere, Powell said.

He hopes the addition of tannins to animal feed will become much more widespread in light of the findings about their potential for curbing ammonia emissions. The tannin extracts used in the studies are already approved for animal feed and would cost only a few cents a day, he said.

Tannins are perhaps best known for their use in tanning leather, and the quebracho and chestnut trees are sources for both leather tanning and cattle feed. Powell said that it may be possible to produce synthetic tannins at a lower cost.

Next on Powell's agenda is research to determine whether tannins also can reduce emissions of methane gas - a potent greenhouse gas involved in global warming - from cattle production. About 25 percent of methane emissions in the United States are from enteric fermentation (mostly belches) of domestic cattle.

Related Links
American Chemical Society
Farming Today - Suppliers and Technology


Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries

. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Engaging land-use stakeholders is model behavior
East Lansing MI (SPX) Sep 06, 2011
Taking land-use models out of the lab for a test drive with the people who live the models gives scientists a new way to develop possible future scenarios. James Millington, a former post-doctoral researcher at Michigan State University's Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability (CSIS) and now a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at King's College in London, has paired the relatively ... read more

TerraSAR-X monitors gas storage centre all the way from space

Orbital Wins ICESat-2 Earth Science Satellite Program Contract

Aquarius Makes First Ocean Salt Measurements

Next NASA Earth-Observing Satellite Arrives in California for Launch

Northrop Grumman Business Unit Astro Aerospace Delivers Antennas to Lockheed Martin for GPS III

Researchers Improving GPS Accuracy In The Third Dimension

ASA Search and Rescue Software Used To Locate Capsized Boat Off Ireland

Software said to improve GPS accuracy

West coast log, lumber exports soar in first half of 2011

Firewood Movement Leading Cause of Oak Infestation

Forests under threat from exotic earthworm invasion

60% of deforested Amazon used for cattle: study

Biofuels Make a Comeback Despite Tough Economy

Farming commercial miscanthus

Cracking cellulose: a step into the biofuels future

Pretreatment, proper harvest time boost ethanol from switchgrass

Solar industry responsible for lead emissions in developing countries

Japan to focus on clean energy exports: minister

Down to the wire

First Nation Deploys Solar-Powered Airfield Lights

First market report on High Altitude Wind Energy

Researchers build a tougher, lighter wind turbine blade

Wind Power Now Less Expensive Than Natural Gas In Brazil

BMW to power Leipzig factory by wind energy

Trapped Chinese miners unlikely to survive: Xinhua

China pulls 19 from flooded mine in rare rescue

3 rescued in China mine, 23 still trapped

Hopes fade for 26 trapped in China mine

Chinese children suffocate on school buses: Xinhua

China censors Ai Weiwei's Newsweek essay

Tutu office 'confident' S.Africa will grant Dalai Lama visa

Propaganda authorities take over Beijing papers

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement