Lab tests prove daffodils could provide the key to sustainable livestock farming, scientists say.
Adding flower extracts to livestock feed reduces methane in artificial cow stomachs by 96%.
A team of researchers at Scottish Rural College hope it can reduce methane emissions by at least 30% when tested on real cows.
A four-year pilot program has now begun on farms across the UK.
Kevin Stephens raises cattle and grows daffodils on his farm in Powys.
He was part of the scientific development team behind the new animal feed.
“We originally grew daffodils to produce an Alzheimer’s drug, but we found that daffodils also produce a compound that prevents methane production in ruminants,” he said.
“So the opportunity to combine those two things is really a great opportunity not to be missed.”
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For farmers like him, finding a more sustainable way of farming could be a game-changer.
“This could have huge changes for the livestock industry,” he said.
“Governments around the world are currently trying to achieve net zero emissions by taxing livestock farmers or setting quotas on the amount of livestock they can have because of this methane by-product.
“This gives us a very real opportunity to change the story.”
It is estimated that half of the country’s methane emissions come from cows.
Globally, the livestock industry is responsible for about 14% of global greenhouse gases.
Professor Jamie Newbold, Professor of Animal Science at Scottish Country College, said: “Our new project has three main phases.
“First to develop the supply chain for the daffodils and extract the chemicals from the daffodils. Second, to test that the additive is safe for both animals and humans, and finally, to work with our farmer partners across England and Wales to prove that the additive can be effective Reduce production and feed costs for methane-emitting dairy cows.
“This is critical because greenhouse gases and global warming are a major global challenge, and we hope our project can be part of the solution to reducing the role of ruminants in methane production.”