Do cows pollute as much as cars – really?

methane-cow-1

Cows emit a massive amount of methane through belching, with a lesser amount through flatulence. Statistics vary regarding how much methane the average dairy cow expels. Some experts say 100 liters to 200 liters a day (or about 26 gallons to about 53 gallons), while others say it’s up to 500 liters (about 132 gallons) a day. In any case, that’s a lot of methane, an amount comparable to the pollution produced by a car in a day.

To understand why cows produce methane, it’s important to know a bit more about how they work. Cows, goats, sheep and several other animals belong to a class of animals called ruminants. Ruminants have four stomachs and digest their food in their stomachs instead of in their intestines, as humans do. Ruminants eat food, regurgitate it as cud and eat it again. The stomachs are filled with bacteria that aid in digestion, but also produce methane. Read more…

Weaning management

If the spring-born calves aren’t weaned yet, then the time isn’t far away now that fall is here. This month we’ll look at recent research from Philipe Moriel and others at North Carolina State University on the role of maternal nutrition in calf performance and health.

Veterinarians and ranchers know healthy weaned calves begin with a well-vaccinated cowherd long before calving, because high-quality colostrum minimizes disease exposure for nursing calves. All true, yes, but even the best established herd immunity can fall short if nutrition falls short in the days before calving.

Work from the 1970s told us calves born to nutrient-restricted cows were more likely to be treated for bovine respiratory disease with greater death loss than calves from cows with adequate nutrition. More recent Nebraska field trials suggest protein supplementation to pregnant cows during the last trimester of gestation improves carcass quality grade and weights in steer progeny while decreasing puberty age and improving pregnancy rates in heifer calves compared to those from unsupplemented dams. These studies demonstrated the potential impact of extended nutrient restriction in late gestation. read more…

Effect of Probiotics/Prebiotics on Cattle Health and Productivity

Probiotics/prebiotics have the ability to modulate the balance and activities of the gastrointestinal (GI) microbiota, and are, thus, considered beneficial to the host animal and have been used as functional foods. Numerous factors, such as dietary and management constraints, have been shown to markedly affect the structure and activities of gut microbial communities in livestock animals. Previous studies reported the potential of probiotics and prebiotics in animal nutrition; however, their efficacies often vary and are inconsistent, possibly, in part, because the dynamics of the GI community have not been taken into consideration. Under stressed conditions, direct-fed microbials may be used to reduce the risk or severity of scours caused by disruption of the normal intestinal environment. The observable benefits of prebiotics may also be minimal in generally healthy calves, in which the microbial community is relatively stable. However, probiotic yeast strains have been administered with the aim of improving rumen fermentation efficiency by modulating microbial fermentation pathways. This review mainly focused on the benefits of probiotics/prebiotics on the GI microbial ecosystem in ruminants, which is deeply involved in nutrition and health for the animal. Read more…

Night milk: milk taken from cows at night might be the sleep aid you need

cowmilk-blog

As anyone who has suffered from insomnia knows well, drinking a glass of warm milk doesn’t always help. But it might, a new study reports, if the milk is taken from a cow at night.

According to an animal study in the Journal of Medicinal Food, night milk – literally milk collected from a cow at night – contains high amounts of tryptophan and melatonin, supplements proven to aid sleep and reduce anxiety. Read more…