Seaweed Additive for Livestock Feed Potential Limited, Study Finds

Scientists at Penn State have been looking into supplementing cattle feed with red seaweed, Asparagopsis taxiformis, to reduce methane emissions from ruminants. Studies have shown that adding small amounts of dried seaweed to the rations of lactating dairy cows decreased methane emission by 80% with no effect on feed intake or milk yield. However, researchers caution that it would be impossible to harvest enough wild seaweed to feed 94 million cattle in the United States, let alone the world’s 1.5 billion cattle. Producing enough seaweed through aquaculture would be a huge undertaking, as well, and distributing it to cattle would add to the challenge. Penn State’s Alexander Hristov also points out that methane from animal agriculture is just 5% of the total greenhouse gases produced in the United States, so the benefits of reducing this methane source are limited. However, he notes that reducing enteric methane emissions could increase the efficiency of animal production.