July 21, 2010

Curry spices reduce methane in sheep, cow burps

Curry just might help prevent global warming — by making sheep and cows less gassy.

Researchers at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom tested five spices found in common curries on bacteria from sheep stomachs and found up to a 40 percent reduction in the production of methane (CH4).

Methane is about 20 times more noxious at affecting global warming than carbon dioxide (CO2). One sheep can burp out over 0.7 cubic feet of methane per day, while a single cow can belch out about 18 cubic feet per day, according to popsci.com.

“What my research found was that certain spices contain properties which make this digestive process more efficient so producing less waste – in this case, methane,” Abdul Shakoor Chaudhry from the School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development told The Independent.

Chaudhry said the spices, coriander, turmeric, cumin, clove and cinnamon, act as natural antibiotics, killing off “bad,” methane-producing bacteria while allowing “good” bacteria to act in its place.

Introducing spices to livestock feed could be an effective natural means of reducing methane production. The European Union banned the addition of antibiotics to livestock feed in 2006, according to The Independent.

Coriander was found as the most effective in methane reduction — up to 40 percent.  Turmeric came in second at 30 percent and cumin third at 22 percent.  The researchers found that cinnamon and cloves were less effective at methane reduction.

The research group tested the spices in-vitro on sheep gut bacteria, but they said the effect should be the same on cows and goats.

“Since antibiotics were banned, the hunt is on for new, safe, cheap ways to reduce methane production in ruminants. Plants like coriander are an ideal solution, especially in parts of the world where expensive treatments are not an option,” Chaudhry said in the report.

—Don Clyde/Newsdesk

VIDEO: Dairy Cattle and Global Warming

CITATIONS:

Curry spices for cows and sheep could cut methane emissions
The Independent, July 19, 2010

Seasoning Livestock Feed With Curry Spices Cuts Methane Emissions 40 Percent
Popsci.com, July 19, 2010

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