Curry spices could be a natural alternative to cut methane emissions from cows and sheep

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Dr. Chaudhry told The Independent:

"Methane is a major contributor to global warming, and the slow digestive system of ruminant animals such as cows and sheep makes them a key producer of the gas. 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."

The spices work much like an antibiotic, killing the "bad" bacteria in the animal's stomach that produces the methane gas and allowing the "good" bacteria to thrive.The most effective of the spices were coriander, which reduced the methane output by 40%, and turmeric, which produced a 30% drop.

"The rumen fluid in cows and sheep is very similar," Dr. Chaudhry went on to explain. "With an estimated 10m cows in the UK, each producing around 500 litres of methane a day, that would be a significant reduction."..."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."

If farmers jump on the bandwagon and start feeding their cattle spices, this means their fields might start to smell like an Indian buffet, though I'm not sure if that's appealing. It also got me wondering if consuming more of these spices would have health benefits for humans, seeing as they promote healthy bacteria in the digestive system.

Information via The Independent; photo via The Discovery Channel.

Dr. Abdul Shakoor Chaudhry, at Newcastle University in England, has recently led a study on natural ways to reduce methane emissions from cows, sheep and goats. Dr. Chaudhry and his team tested the use of spices traditionally found in Indian curries — cumin, coriander, clove, turmeric and cinnamon — to cut methane emissions by feeding the ground up spices to sheep (which have very similar systems as cows and goats).

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