Do cattle burps cause global warming?

a heifer belching or "eructating"
a heifer belching or “eructating”
Everyone wants to do their part to help save the planet. Understandably so. It’s important for us to leave the planet better than we left it. Stewardship of the land is important to all farmers and ranchers. Not only does it make their methods of production more effective in the future but it ensures the environment is being kept in prime condition. Though people typically picture factories and cars when pollutants like carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses recently bovines and other ruminants have been in the spotlight! So that’s what I want to talk about today.
Ruminants produce methane
Cattle, Sheep, Goats and other game animals have some magic inside them. Tiny microbes that turn low quality forages into high quality products of milk, wool and meat. It’s pretty impressive. When this happens gas is produced – and between 20 and 40 percent of this is methane. 


How much methane? 
It depends on who you talk too. The EPA estimates that methane from belching or eructation and manure sits around twenty eight percent of emissions due to human activity. However, Alexander Histrov an animal science professor of Dairy Nutrition at Pennsylvania says that this is a rather small role in anthropogenic emissions compared to the very global scale of greenhouse gas.


Like a lot of other things in agriculture, this isn’t new
Game animals such as bison have been doing this forever. They’re ruminants as well and have produced methane gasses on a whim those stinkers!


How much methane is it in the scheme of things?
It’s only about 2.2 percent of the entire United States fossil fuel emissions that’s specifically from ruminant animals. The good news is that there are various studies going on with the end goal of reducing methane emissions in ruminant animals in the livestock industry.
Thanks for reading!
-Lauren

Bibliography
Spence, Solmaz B. “Probing Question: Are Cow Burps Contributing to Global Warming?” Penn State News. Penn State, 11 Mar. 2011. Web. 25 Sept. 2014.

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