Wine Waste Reduces Methane Emissions

AUSTRALIA - New research by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has found that feeding dairy cows the stems, seeds and skins from wine grapes increased milk production, dramatically cuts their methane emissions and makes their milk healthier.
calendar icon 15 December 2011
clock icon 2 minute read

Scientists at DPI’s Centre for Dairy Excellence at Ellinbank found that supplementing the cows’ feed with grape marc reduced their emissions by 20 per cent, increased milk production by five per cent and increased the healthy fatty acids in their milk when green feed was not available.

The cut to emissions is thought to represent the largest reduction of its kind ever attained through the use of a feed supplement.

The scientists supplemented the diet of dairy cows with five kilos of dried grape marc over 37 days and compared the results with other animals fed conventional fodder. They then measured the cows’ milk yields, milk composition and methane emissions.

DPI scientist Peter Moate said the researchers were stunned by the results.

“We now know that supplementing a dairy cows’ diet with dried grape marc increases the healthy fatty acids in milk by more than six times that of standard autumn fodder,” Dr Moate said.

“We’ve managed to utilise what is currently a waste product for the wine industry and turn it into a very valuable feed source,” Dr Moate said.

He said there was currently around 200,000 tonnes of grape marc produced in Australia every year making it a readily available product for dairy farmers.

However there were limits to the movement of grape marc because of quarantine restrictions to prevent the spread of the grapevine pest phylloxera.

In another benefit to flow from the research, the results also showed that feeding grape marc to dairy cows also increased their daily milk production by five per cent.

Dr Moate said the trial was carried out towards the end of the lactation cycle and that the researchers hoped to repeat it during early lactation when the cows were producing more milk.

“It’s possible that the benefits of using grape marc as a feed supplement in early lactation could be even more significant,” he said.

This research is part of a wider program looking the use of feed supplements to reduce methane emissions, such as brewers grains, cold-pressed canola meal, cottonseed meal, and hominy meal, all reduce methane emissions while supporting milk production.

Dr Moate said the use of grape marc together with other methane reducing feeds could result in a reduction in methane emissions of up to 20,000 tonnes per year – the equivalent of taking about 200,000 cars off the road.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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