Cows at 15 farms throughout Vermont are doing their part to reduce global warming by eating more plants like alfalfa and flax and less corn and soy–feed products that are cheap and filling but unhealthy. The diet program, initiated by Vermont yogurt producer Stonyfield Farm, began in January. So far, results have been promising, with one dairy farmer claiming that his cows are healthier, their breath is sweeter, and their coats are shinier.
Sweet breath in cows is an indicator that they are producing less methane, a potent greenhouse gas with 20 times the heat-trapping ability of carbon dioxide. The average cow emits 200 to 400 pounds of methane each year, but dairy farmer and Stonyfield Farm project participant Guy Choiniere says that his cows now emit 18% less methane while milk output remains high.
While plant-based feed is currently more expensive than corn and soy, it still saves money. Cows that eat grass-like foods produce up to 10% more milk, stay healthier, and live longer. These are facts that probably have Big Corn shaking in its boots, but companies like Valorex SAS are stepping in to provide plant-based feed additives for cows. Valorex feed is already used at 600 farms in France, and Stonyfield Farm plans to bring the feed to the U.S.
[Via NY Times]