FINLAND – A new feed additive by Dutch multinational health and nutrition company Royal DSM has successfully passed a pilot test in Finland and can be now safely used in cow feed.

Known as Bovaer, the feed additive is reported to reduce methane emissions produced by cows by 30%.

To ascertain its safety and effectiveness, Bovaer was subjected to a feed trial by Finnish dairy giant Valio and Atria’s subsidiary A-Rehu.

During the 12-week test period, 400 cows at three different Valio dairy farms received feed containing the Bovaer additive.

“During the pilot period, the cows’ milk production remained normal and no changes were detected in thecomposition of the milk. Nor was anything unusual detected in the cows’ behavior and welfare.

Based on the results of the pilot, the additive can be safely added to the cow feed,” said Juha Nousiainen, senior vice president, carbon-neutral milk chain, at Valio.

The successful pilot paves way for the additive to be used in cow feed to greatly reduce the amount of methane that is released to the atmosphere.

Methane is the primary contributor to the formation of ground-level ozone, a hazardous air pollutant and greenhouse gas, exposure to which causes 1 million premature deaths every year.

Methane is also a powerful greenhouse gas. According to a report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP, over a 20-year period, Methane becomes 80 times more potent at warming than carbon dioxide.

“A cow burps an average of 400 liters of methane a day. About 18–22 grams of methane per milk kilo is generated, when calculated from calf to adulthood. The methane produced in the rumens of dairy cows accounts for about 2.5% of Finland’s greenhouse gases,” Nousiainen said.

A recent assessment from UNEP and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition found that cutting farming-related methane emissions would be key in the battle against climate change.

“Bovaer prevents the enzyme from working, so no methane is produced. The additive makes it possible to annually reduce about 1,000 kg of CO2-eq per cow. The additive reduces the carbon footprint of milk by about 10–15%,” Nousiainen said.

Safety of the feed’s active ingredient, 3-Nitrooxypropanol (3-NOP), has been studied extensively with animals, consumers, farms and in the environment, with no adverse effects discovered.

Farmers intending to the feed additive to cut down their carbon footprint can be rest assured that no adverse effects will be observed in their herds.

The feed project by Valio and Atria in Finland was authorized by the Finnish Food Authority.

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