How Much Whole Milk A Day For 1 Year Old Climate Change and Cow Burps

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Climate Change and Cow Burps

Did you know that in December 2009, the United States Department of Agriculture and the US Dairy Innovation Center announced that they were working with the dairy industry to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020? Didn’t create your radar screen? Okay, but let’s take a look at why this is important and what the companies you may be buying from are doing to support this initiative. Everyone must do their part to reduce their carbon footprint; every industry, business sector, organization and individual must be involved in the solution. According to the Innovation Center, the dairy sector examines everything from the transportation of dairy products to the production of fodder for cows. If the dairy industry meets its 2020 goal, it would remove 1.25 million cars from US roads each year; not an insignificant number!

In the United States, the dairy industry accounts for 2% of total greenhouse gas emissions, and the agricultural sector accounts for about 7% of total greenhouse gas emissions. In the language your 10-year-old understands, there is a serious concern being addressed at both government and industry level, cow burps; but let’s face it, cows also “fart”. What does this have to do with climate change, you might think? Emissions from ‘enteric fermentation’, which is part of the digestive process in animals such as cows, are primarily ‘methane’ gas emissions. Methane is a major greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. There are two problems with methane production in US agriculture:

1. many of our large working farms actually have methane “lakes” for manure storage, or
2. ignoring what type of feed the animals are getting, which can have a huge impact on “burping!”

We will focus on “belching” which, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, is responsible for 90% of enteric fermentation in cows.

Last year, Vermont-based Stonyfield Farms launched a program with its dairy farmers to change the way cows are fed, “both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the nutritional content of milk in ways that may help reduce cardiovascular disease and obesity.” To Gary Hirshberg, President of Stoneyfield Farms. The program introduces cows to a diet of alfalfa, flax and grasses, all high in natural sources of omega-3; which results in….less cow belching! In the first 6 months of the program, cow belching decreased between 13 and 18%. The byproduct for farmers is healthier cows and lower vet bills!

Climate change 101 facts: methane gas is a 23 times stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide!

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