• 05.09.16

In India, Cows That Belch Less Could Mooooove The Needle On Climate Change

Cows create an awful lot of damaging emissions. What if we redesigned cows?

In India, Cows That Belch Less Could Mooooove The Needle On Climate Change
Photo: Cococinema via Shutterstock

When humans have too much gas, a doctor will probably tell them to modify their diet. Scientists in India want to do the same for cows.


Belching and farting cows are a problem for the planet. The methane they release is a significant contributor to global warming. In a day, a cow can outgas 55 gallons of methane, and there are 1.5 billion cows in the world–and 280 million in India alone.

The New York Times reports that the Indian scientists at the Cow Research Institute are modifying cattle feed to find a formula that will cause cows to belch less. Another breeder is experimenting with actually creating a cow breed that he says produces only 10% of the methane as typical livestock cattle (it also can withstand hotter weather).

Flickr user Matt Zimmerman

There may be other, even better ideas for dealing with the problem by capturing the methane that cows emit and burning it for energy. Argentine researchers are working on this approach by using special backpacks tailored for cows that contain their gas.

Either way, for meat or dairy eaters who are concerned about their carbon footprint, climate-friendly cattle ranches could be the perfect alternative to changing their diet.

About the author

Jessica Leber is a staff editor and writer for Fast Company's Co.Exist. Previously, she was a business reporter for MIT’s Technology Review and an environmental reporter at ClimateWire.