California approves seaweed supplement to reduce enteric methane

Blue Ocean Farms was granted provisional certificates of registration
calendar icon 9 May 2022
clock icon 2 minute read

Blue Ocean Barns announced on Friday that the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has authorised commercial use of the company's seaweed-based supplement as a digestive aid for cattle.

The decision followed a successful trial at Straus Organic Dairy Farm in Marin County,  a trial the company said is the largest and longest yet conducted with seaweed and dairy cows. CDFA's Safe Animal Feed Education Program provided technical assistance, feed sampling, and analysis during the trial.

Brominata is a variety of red seaweed proven in published scientific trials to promote higher energy yield from the digestion of hay and grasses and to reduce cows' methane emissions by 80% or more. The livestock industry has long needed a feed additive to reduce the wasted energy that cattle naturally burp into the atmosphere. Over the past four years, multiple studies by major universities have shown that the supplement is safe for cows and doesn't change the chemistry or taste of milk or meat.

Following the Straus trial, Blue Ocean Barns' independent conclusion that the product is Generally Recognised as Safe (GRAS) was reviewed by California's Commercial Feed Regulatory Program and Livestock Drug Program. Those two programs have regulatory oversight and authority over all commercial livestock feeds and livestock drugs/remedies sold within or into the state. CDFA issued a "No Objections Letter" and granted provisional certificates of registration for both the certified organic and nonorganic formulations of Brominata, approving both labels under the state's Livestock Drug Program.

Animal scientists for decades have tested a number of feed additives — garlic, lemongrass, as well as synthetic ingredients — aimed at reducing methane outputs from cow burps. Those emissions account for about 4% of all greenhouse gas produced globally each year. But none of those other supplements reduced nearly the amount of greenhouse gas as the red seaweed called Asparagopsis taxiformis, said Blue Ocean Barns. Still, that seaweed has never been cultivated at scale despite the need to feed the supplement to nearly 100 million cows in the US and about 1.5 billion worldwide. Blue Ocean Barns said it solved the problem of growing at scale and began ramping up production on a commercial level in 2020 in order to serve Straus Family Creamery and other farm families throughout California. 

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