Harbro leads the way in reducing methane emissions
22 Mar 2018
With global CO2 emissions having risen again after a three-year period of stability, pressure is on for countries to take the recommendations of the Paris Agreement on climate change seriously, to ensure this rise is not the signal of an upward trend.
“Agriculture has been identified as an industry with a big part to play in reducing emissions, with the environmental impact of the methane produced by cattle being in particularly sharp focus,” explains Willie Thomson, Technical Director at Harbro.
The figures speak for themselves, he says, recent data shows that 40% of greenhouse gas emissions come from methane produced by predominantly ruminants, with the wider agricultural supply chain also identified as being responsible for a further 8-11% of human-induced emissions.
“Within our business, we feel that we have had a responsibility to play our part in supporting farmers to reduce their carbon footprint, and one of the most important places to start is in the environment of the rumen,” he suggests.
The business started to explore how, through feeding, farmers could reduce their farm methane output, without impacting on animal health and farm profits.
“We started by looking at our nutritional advice and the role that Rumitech could play.”
Their work has delivered them very positive progress.
“After an independent review of evidence, the Carbon Trust has provided us an assurance that Rumitech can significantly reduce enteric methane emissions and improve feed efficiency in dairy and beef cattle, without affecting productivity.”
Harbro trials have shown that the correct use of the product, within a predominantly forage-based diet, reduces dairy or beef enteric methane emissions by 17.7% per litre of milk (+/- 5%)*, and dairy or beef enteric methane emissions by 6% per day (+/- 2%)*.
“Rumitech is a unique feed additive that encourages a more efficient rumen environment, enhancing rumen function and maximising performance,” Mr Thomson adds. “There are also a number of secondary gains to be had, including: improved grading and killing out percentages, improved fertility, reduction in feed intake and also a reduction in cases of ketosis.”
Beef and dairy trials across the UK using the product have shown clear benefits in feed conversion efficiency, amounting to £24,000 p/a for dairy, based on a 100 cow herd. With minimal cost to feeding the additive of just 2p/cow/day for beef cattle and 4p/cow/day for dairy, and with availability in a range of different packages, introducing the mineral into a ration is simple and straightforward and an option available to every farm.
It is a key component of the Harbro product portfolio and when used as part of a consultative data driven approach, delivers significant financial benefits.
Available as a blend or compound, or as part of an on-farm mineral pack, the product can be easily introduced to the ration with visible effects seen within a short period of feeding. With a significant direct correlation seen between reduction in energy lost as methane and increase in productivity, whether in terms of litres of milk, or weight gained, it would seem that working towards a sustainable future for the planet as well as the farmer go hand in hand.
The Wilson family in Scotland finish 2000 cattle a year on an intensive 150-200 day finishing ration that includes Rumitech. Their tailored nutritional program devised with Harbro has enabled the farm to reduce dry matter intake by 10% which in turn has prompted a substantial reduction to their feed costs. In addition, grading and killing out have seen significant uplifts with 60% of the cattle being killed hitting a fat class of 4L, 30% 4H and 10% 3.
*when used correctly within a predominantly forage based diet.