A new feed additive has been shown to reduce methane emissions by as much as 17.7% per litre of milk, which in turn could be worth as much as £24,000 per year for a 100-cow herd.

RumiTech from Harbro, has been officially recognised by The Carbon Trust as an effective tool for reducing enteric methane emissions within a predominantly forage-based diet in beef and dairy cattle. Proven in trials and in practical on-farm situations, it has also been shown to improve rumen function and feed use efficiency.

“Agriculture has been identified as an industry with a big part to play in reducing emissions, with the environmental impact of the methane produced by cattle being in particularly sharp focus," said Willie Thomson, technical director at Harbro.

"With global CO2 emissions having risen again after a three-year period of stability, pressure is on for countries to take the recommendations of the Paris Agreement on climate change seriously, to ensure this rise is not the signal of an upward trend."

Recent data shows that 40% of greenhouse gas emissions come from methane produced by predominantly ruminants, with the wider agricultural supply chain also identified as being responsible for a further 8-11% of human-induced emissions.

“Within our business, we feel that we have had a responsibility to play our part in supporting farmers to reduce their carbon footprint, and one of the most important places to start is in the environment of the rumen,” added Mr Thomson.

Harbro trials have shown that the correct use of the product, within a predominantly forage-based diet, reduces dairy or beef enteric methane emissions by 17.7% per litre of milk (+/- 5%), and dairy or beef enteric methane emissions by 6% per day (+/- 2%) when used correctly within a forage-based diet.

“Rumitech is a unique feed additive that encourages a more efficient rumen environment, enhancing rumen function and maximising performance,” Mr Thomson said.

“There are also a number of secondary gains to be had, including: improved grading and killing out percentages, improved fertility, reduction in feed intake and also a reduction in cases of ketosis.”

Beef and dairy trials across the UK using the product have shown clear benefits in feed conversion efficiency, amounting to £24,000 per annum for dairy, based on a 100-cow herd. With minimal cost to feeding the additive of just 2p per cow per day for beef cattle and 4p per cow per day for dairy, and with availability in a range of different packages, introducing the mineral into a ration is simple and straightforward and an option available to every farm.

Available in a blend or compound, or as part of an on-farm mineral pack, the product can be easily introduced to the ration with visible effects seen within a short period of feeding.

Notably, there is a significant direct correlation between the reduction in energy lost as methane and increase in productivity, whether in terms of litres of milk, or weight gained, showing that working towards a sustainable future for the planet, as well as the farmer, go hand in hand, said Mr Thomson.

This new feed additive is working a treat for the Wilson family who finish 2000 cattle a year on an intensive 150-200-day finishing ration too. Their tailored nutritional programme devised with Harbro has enabled the farm to reduce dry matter intake by 10% which in turn has prompted a substantial reduction to their feed costs. In addition, grading and killing out have seen significant uplifts with 60% of the cattle being killed hitting a fat class of 4L, 30% 4H and 10% 3.