Stonyfield Farm changes cows' diet to reduce methane emissions

Cows' burping produces greenhouse gases.
Cows' burping produces greenhouse gases.
Vermont dairy producer Stonyfield Farm said it has introduced a program to reduce methane emissions from its cows by altering their diet to include natural sources of omega-3 such as alfalfa, flax and grasses.

The company said it is the first program in North America to naturally decrease global warming gases caused by cows' belching of greenhouse gas methane. The program will also significantly increase the nutritional value of the milk through omega-3 content and by reducing saturated fats.

"This is a watershed moment for the U.S. dairy industry," said Stonyfield president Gary Hirshberg. "By changing the feed we give our cows, we can simultaneously reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve milk's nutritional content in a way that may help reduce cardiovascular disease and obesity."

Livestock emissions from methane and manure contribute about half of all agricultural emissions responsible for global warming, more than any other source, including farm equipment.

The Stonyfield Greener Cow pilot program began in late 2008 with 15 Vermont Organic Valley farms which supply the milk for Stonyfield's yogurts. The new feed program has reduced enteric emissions from the cows by as much as 18 percent and an average of 12 percent.