MPs to consider policy on methane-reducing feed additives

The UK government is gathering evidence on methane-reducing feed additives to assess the role they could play to cut farming’s greenhouse gas emissions and produce more sustainable beef, lamb and milk.

The 12-week consultation is now open and runs until Tuesday 15 November.

Livestock farmers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all been invited to contribute.

Agriculture ministers from the four nations say they want to gather views from farmers, scientists and the wider public about the feed additives, to inform future policy on the technology and how it can help combat climate change.

See also: 21 ways beef producers can tackle net zero

The UK aims to reach net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050.

In 2019, when compared to total emissions from all sectors, agriculture was the source of 10% of total GHG emissions in the UK, and 47% of total methane emissions.

The consultation will consider the current role of feed additives within our farming systems, and the potential barriers that could prevent the introduction of methane-reducing feed products.

These products are defined as “natural or synthetic compounds added to or included in animals’ diets which lead to less methane being produced whilst the animal is digesting the feed”.

Examples include seaweeds, essential oils, probiotics and organic acids.

Farming minister Victoria Prentis said: “Through this call for evidence, we’ll better understand the promising role emerging feed additive technologies for cattle could play and how government can help drive its development.” 

Last year, Dutch nutrition company Royal DSM announced it was planning large-scale production of its methane-reducing feed additive for ruminants, Bovaer, at a new plant at its existing Scottish site in Dalry, Ayrshire.

According to the company, just one-quarter of a teaspoon of Bovaer fed to a dairy cow daily will consistently reduce enteric methane emissions released into the atmosphere by cows burping by about 30%, enabling a 10-12% reduction in GHG emissions for every kg of milk.