Can “Kowbucha” Slow Methane from Cattle?

December 19, 2022

New Zealand will be pricing cow burps in the future, so it matters.


More than a dozen calves wait at a research farm in New Zealand to be fed Kowbucha, a punnily named probiotic that studies show reduces burps — or methane emissions.

The Kowbucha powder is blended into a milk-like drink fed to the calves at the Massey University farm in Palmerston North.

The regular feeds are part of a series of trials being carried out by New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra (FCG.NZ) since 2021 to gauge how effective the probiotic is in reducing methane emissions. New Zealand has pledged to cut biogenic methane emissions by 10% on 2017 levels by 2030 and by up to 47% by 2050.

The “true eureka moment” came when early trials suggested that calves emit up to 20% less methane when they receive the probiotic supplement, said Shalome Bassett, principal scientist at Fonterra Research and Development Centre.

“Probiotics are great because they’re a really natural solution,” Bassett told Reuters. “Whatever we do, it has to be something that’s easy for the farmer to use, has to be cost effective, and we have to ensure that it’s good for the cow and doesn’t have any effect on the milk.”

Ongoing trials have shown similar, promising results, she said. If that continues, Fonterra hopes to have Kowbucha sachets in stores by the end of 2024, Bassett said, before farmers have to start paying for animal burps.

Fonterra said it did not yet have any pricing information for the sachets.

Some feed additives available abroad have proved to be more efficient. Royal DSM’s (DSMN.AS) Bovaer feed additive can reduce methane emissions by 30% in dairy cows and by more in beef cattle.

Below, relative greenhouse gas emissions from various protein sources.


One Response to “Can “Kowbucha” Slow Methane from Cattle?”

  1. Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

    Eureka, a useful way to get rid of kowbucha.

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