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America's 'Radical Elders' continue their work for fairness, justice; SCOTUS upholds law disarming domestic abusers; Workplace adoption benefits help families, communities; Report examines barriers to successful post-prison re-entry in NC.

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A congresswoman celebrates Biden protections for mixed status families, Louisiana's Ten Commandments law faces an inevitable legal challenge, and a senator moves to repeal the strict 19th century anti-obscenity and anti-abortion Comstock Act.

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A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

NH scientists: Plant-based oils in cow feed cut climate-altering methane emissions

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Tuesday, May 7, 2024   

New research from the University of New Hampshire could help dairy farmers increase profits while reducing their effect on the climate.

Scientists said adding a plant-based essential oil blend to cow feed can improve a cow's digestion and reduce the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Andre Brito, associate professor of dairy cattle nutrition and management at the University of New Hampshire, said the findings are especially true for pasture grazing cows and shows a happy cow makes for a healthier environment.

"If those animals are provided those conditions, they'll be more productive," Brito pointed out. "Then the amount of methane that's being emitted by those animals is diluted because they're producing more product."

Brito reported adding the plant oils led to a more than 6% increase in milk production, which is good news for the majority of New Hampshire dairies, especially small to mid-size operations with smaller profit margins and higher equipment costs.

Still, Brito noted the research findings could translate to larger, industrial-size dairies. The factory farms often hold thousands of cows, generating significant methane emissions through their hearty burps and manure, which is often stored in large, polluting lagoons.

Brito acknowledged although the plant-based oils are readily available for use, farmers must weigh the economic benefits and overall environmental impact.

"Any investment that the farmers would make in a product has to be tied to economics," Brito stressed. "Even though farmers overall, they are conscious about the environment and they want to make sure that there is less carbon, nitrogen footprint out of their farms."

Brito's research was conducted on cows as they transitioned from the winter indoor-feeding schedule to eating their favorite plants in the pasture, a diet change which can increase the cow's emissions.

Brito added he hopes the research can help farmers better understand when to add the oils to the cow feed to potentially reduce the cow's overall climate effect.


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