Quantifying the moo

From the USDA, via Eurekalert. The goal was quantifying the moo. Next step, regulation. Hello $10/gallon milk.

Calves at a dairy operation in southern Idaho. Image: USDA

 In the first detailed study on emissions from large-scale dairies, ARS researchers found that a commercial dairy with 10,000 milk cows generated an average of 3,575 pounds of ammonia, 33,092 pounds of methane, and 409 pounds of nitrous oxide every day>

How Dairy Farms Contribute to Greenhouse Gas Emissions

By Ann Perry
July 19, 2011

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have produced the first detailed data on how large-scale dairy facilities contribute to the emission of greenhouse gases. This research was conducted by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists at the ARS Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research Laboratory in Kimberly, Idaho.

ARS is USDA’s principal intramural scientific research agency, and these studies support the USDA priority of responding to climate change.

ARS soil scientist April Leytem led the year-long project, which involved monitoring the emissions of ammonia, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide from a commercial dairy with 10,000 milk cows in southern Idaho. The facility had 20 open-lot pens, two milking parlors, a hospital barn, a maternity barn, a manure solid separator, a 25-acre wastewater storage pond and a 25-acre compost yard.

Concentration data was collected continuously for two to three days each month, along with air temperature, barometric pressure, wind direction and wind speed. After this data was collected, Leytem’s team calculated the average daily emissions for each source area for each month.

The results indicated that, on average, the facility generated 3,575 pounds of ammonia, 33,092 pounds of methane and 409 pounds of nitrous oxide every day. The open lot areas generated 78 percent of the facility’s ammonia, 57 percent of its nitrous oxide and 74 percent of the facility’s methane emissions during the spring.

In general, the emission of ammonia and nitrous oxide from the open lots were lower during the late evening and early morning, and then increased throughout the day to peak late in the day. These daily fluctuations paralleled patterns in wind speed, air temperature and livestock activity, all of which generally increased during the day. Emissions of ammonia and methane from the wastewater pond and the compost were also lower in the late evening and early morning and increased during the day.

Results from the study were published in the Journal of Environmental Quality.

Read more about this work in the July 2011 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

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88 thoughts on “Quantifying the moo

  1. One wonders how one would quantify the contributions the many herds of tens of millions of American bison had on the environment before we killed them all. We should post-date our carbon credits in this fashion, use our previous hunt-to-extinction activities as evidence of green behavior.

  2. Left to its own devices, what would be generated from the feed the cow eats if the cow doesn’t eat it? Seems to me that is the source of all this bovine abundance. So to the point, what is the delta between the contribution feed (ultimately sourced to grasses) makes without the cow, and that contributed by the feed and the post-processing contributed by the cow?

    What is the economical and climate change consequence of finding other food sources than rib-eye?

  3. That’s an emission rate of about 2% body mass. Did they at all consider that the cattle were incorporating a lot more mass into body weight, as in growing, and into their milk?

    WIthout these considerations, this study is meaningless, let alone the fact that “greenhouse” gases are irrelevant to the climate. This minor source can be ignored.

    Having al lot of anything makes for big numbers. It’s a great way to spread alarm.

  4. One third of a pound of ammonia per cow per day? One pound of methane per cow per day? I don’t think these number pass the sniff test :) Anyway, most of the ammonia would pretty rapidly get converted to nitrate.

  5. I didnt realize that the USDA’s “priority” was now climate change…silly me…I thought the Dept of Agriculture’s “priority” was to ensure consistent production of agricultural products for the United States…

  6. USDA’s new environmental mission: destroy american jobs and spread climate alarmism at the rate of 10,000 pages of BS per day.

  7. It doesn’t work in the USA but, when pronounced, ARS is the homophone in the UK of a word which encapsulates this project.

  8. The solution to the bovine methane “problem” is simple and straightforward; afterburners. I envision environmentally benign, jaw-powered, piezoelectric igniters and KABOOM! Problem solved. Add extension-cord-cow-leashes and stern-mounted, turbo-expander/generators and you’ve got yourself some serious “revenue enhancement”.

  9. Since if the vegetation is not fed to the livestock, it will be eaten either by wild herbivores such as the long-gone Great Northern Herd), or be eaten by bacteria, and turned into co2 and methane just the same. The only solution would be to spray the whole continent in Round-up, then manually kill the resistant plants. Eventually, after the soil organics are all converted into co2 and methane, no more will be produced from the land, and the long-dead ecofascists can rejoice. The real issue here is they don’t like the idea of anyone eating meat.

  10. Speaking of bison, the millions of tons of bison flesh roaming the pre-settlement Great Plains is in the ballpark of the tonnage of the present-day level of bovine flesh. So, all these emissions are not new to the environment. They just come from a different ungulate.

    (But this matters because pre-settlement bison and the indigenous peoples who hunted them are presumed to be at-one with nature, a pure and pristine metaphor for Utopia, while cattle and those balding fat white men who exploit them are real threats to the environment.)

  11. The pasture the dairy cows are feeding on would be sequestering CO2 each year equivalent to about half of the methane the cows generate. This is never taken into account (and one would think USDA soil scientists would at least net that off – who funded the grant – are they trying to ruin agriculture?).

  12. The USDA recently had it’s budget cut, and they have been looking for more income. Anything that might bring in some milk money is worth trying.

  13. I remember when I did the Clemson surfacestation survey at the LaMaster Dairy Center (http://www.clemson.edu/public/researchfarms/lamaster_dairy/index.html#LaMaster%20Dairy%20Center). The sensor was less then 500 ft away from the livestock housing, iirc, and there was a very distinct livestock odor in the air as I photographed the station (I noted this in the report). It might be interesting to compare raw temps from this station to, say, Walhalla and Anderson, SC just for giggles.

  14. Many of our relatives are dairy farmers. They do make a good living but all of them together don’t have 10,000 cows. That is a seriously large herd, used by the researchers, no doubt, to get big numbers. Another meaningless study on our nickle. As noted by those above, net change in GHG=0, even if it were relevent to climate. I suppose beef cattle feeding operations are next. Sounds to me like some PETA folks grinding their axes. These people all want to starve in the dark if they don’t freeze to death first.

  15. @ DesertYote
    Actually a third of a pound of ammonia and a pound of methane per cow/day sounds about right to me.
    That’s why I’m glad the farm cross the road from my dad’s place only had 20 to 30 head. And were usually downwind. ;)

  16. A year long study and what we find is that cows pee, poop and fart. Get 10,000 cows and that’s a lot of … stuff. Other than that it’s a total waste (pun intended).

    Mike

  17. ….these studies support the USDA priority of responding to climate change.

    What, I thought the US Dept. of Agriculture’s jobe was Islamic Outreach, like NASA.

  18. @Steve “The real issue here is they don’t like the idea of anyone eating meat.”

    Steve, this is a DAIRY farm.

  19. PETA is fully behind this I am sure. They are the main anti-meat, anti-milk group around and have their tentacles firmly entrenched in the US federal bureaucracy. Not to mention they are a large watermelon group politically.

    I have never understood why the containment ponds aren’t designed to capture that methane, clean it and use it to power generators and heat water for sanitizing the milk equipment. Seems like a waste of a valuable resource once one gets past the smell.

  20. Bill Illis says:
    July 19, 2011 at 9:36 am

    “…who funded the grant…”

    The U.S. taxpayers, of course…

  21. Well then, the USDA’s US Forest Service must be helping with carbon sequestration and
    atmospheric albedo by their thinly disguised let burn policy…

  22. Curious, one wonders how you measured all these emissions from an open-air feedlot. Especially when the wind was blowing. And, if they only measured for 2-3 days out of a month, how do they know for certain what the diurnal cycle of production is? How do they know for certain what the yearly stratification is if they don’t even have a weekly analysis?

    Seems to me, the only real way to accomplish this is to attain a baseline reading from an enclosed storage\handling facility. Place 100 cows inside for a year. Collect all of the air analysis through an pumped air analyzer. Then extrapolate or condense as the heart desires. But, then of course, you lose any sort of ecological benefit of weather.

    Didn’t we already have a study like this when they stuck a cow full of tubes and air hoses?!?!

    So, they are adding up the compost yard, the storage pond, etc and dividing by the number of cows? hmmmmmmm. what about those cows that die mid-season? Or are sold and not replaced?

    Has anyone analyzed the gaseous emissions from deer or elk or mountain goats? How about wild pigs?

  23. Products made from cows:
    Any amount of medicinal applications from insulin to gelatin pill capsules and medical sutures for surgery. Food apart from the obvious meat cuts:- milk, cheese yogurt, icecream, chewing gum, cake mixes, coffee whiteners, marshmallow, sausage casings, candy, flavorings, mayonnaise.Non food: adhesives, buttons, cosmetics specialty plastics, fabric printing and dyeing, minerals, diagnostic microbiology, pencils, bone handles and jewelry, fertilizer, buttons, bone china, water filters, bandage strips, collagen cold cream, cellophane wrap, crochet needles, dog biscuits, photographic film, shampoo and conditioner, wallpaper paste, syringes, biodiesel, crayons deodorants, detergents, explosives, floor wax, antifreeze, insecticides, linoleum, matches, paints, perfumes, shoe cream, water proofing agents, air filters, paint brushes, belts, leather goods, luggage, chessmen, combs, piano keys, tennis racquet strings
    Just a fraction of things made from cows, taken from this list: http://www.rense.com/general6/cow.htm
    And youre worried about $10 milk !!!

  24. 3.3 lbs of methane per cow.
    That is nearly 68 standard cubic feet of gas per cow per day.
    Seems a bit out of line.

  25. Nitrogen cycle? Carbon cycle? Remember the buffalo once numbered in the millions. One herd could take several days to pass by. How does dairy cattle waste production compare to pre-columbian buffalo? And what quantities of ammonia and methane did mammoths produce? These products are all natural. We see solid evidence here that the regulators have run out of important work to do and they should be scaled back or shut down.

    What is the problem with ammonia and CH4? Nothing in the air. There is not enough ammonia to matter compared with nitrogen fixation. Methane oxidizes to CO2 (OMG, the horror!). Ammonia and nitrates (oxidized ammonia) entering groundwater and surface water is more of a concern. That’s just a containment issue. Spread more evenly on the ground, and you have a nice fertilizer. Should help grow more alfalfa to support more cows.

    This report is just more garbage science to justify growing government. These agencies need to shift to maintenance mode, and stop trying to carve out more territory to regulate. When business is choked to death, there won’t be any funding. Oh, but then we can just print more money to run government. All of this mismanagement starts at the top. Unfortunately, these goofballs believe more government is always better. We pay for this bloated bureaucratic monstrosity, and the mess always falls on us to fix. Govenment can never actually solve a problem, or funding ends.

  26. Mark Reau says:

    “…receives matching funds from the California Energy Commission… The meter spins backward as excess electricity is fed back to the grid.”

    Do you think that subsidy should be eliminated?

  27. NoAstronomer says:
    July 19, 2011 at 10:03 am

    @Steve “The real issue here is they don’t like the idea of anyone eating meat.”
    Steve, this is a DAIRY farm.

    Where do you think your Micky D burgers come from? Why is it so cheap? Old dairy cattle have to go somewhere. You’re eating Granny Bossie.

  28. I’ve repeatedly suggested building digesters for the methane and ammonia in the local area. The initial outlay would be high, but the digested materials (fertilizer) as well as the methane and ammonia could be used directly. Also tends to work even better if you add cellulose to the mix to allow the bacteria to eat the ammonia more efficiently. (old paper, straw, sawdust, etc)

    Win-win, and you end up with a great deal of usable natural gas, and less odor in general.

  29. Government Regulations-
    What freedoms are you NOT willing to lose before you take a stand?

  30. Mark Reau,

    You want to continue to give taxpayer subsidies when the meter is spinning backward?? How do you feel about oil company subsidies?

  31. And mow much co2 do the cows and their food crop “sequest” during the cows lifetime? Probably the same amount making it neutral, as the cycle uses current co2, the cow farts are not fuelled by fossil fuels that are not part of the current co2 cycle. This is just another hack piece by greens wanting to stop americans eating beef! Why dont they also look at the amonia and methane a person produces in a day (including vegetarians / vegans) and then try and outlaw humans from existing also.

  32. NoAstronomer says:
    July 19, 2011 at 10:03 am
    “@Steve “The real issue here is they don’t like the idea of anyone eating meat.”
    “Steve, this is a DAIRY farm.”

    Mike,
    What do you think happens to dairy cows, when they get a bit older and their milk production begins to fall off? They are not retired or ‘put out to pasture’. Just like ‘over the hill’ bulls, they get fed up a bit and turned into hamburger. It is reasonable to speculate that PETA or other dietary bias groups that fail to embrace omnivore diversity could be involved…. quite reasonable.

  33. Hoser: Where do you think your Micky D burgers come from? Why is it so cheap? Old dairy cattle have to go somewhere. You’re eating Granny Bossie.

    Read somewhere that Holsteins make bad beef. Didn’t believe it, so I bought a day-old calf and raised it to maturity. Had it slaughtered and frozen. Cooked some and became a believer. (Most of it then went for dog food.) Hoser, you should listen to the farmers. Bossie doesn’t go to McDonalds.

  34. Myron Mesecke says:
    July 19, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    I’m lactose intolerant so don’t blame me.

    So too, it seems, is the all green, all the time CAGW movement.

  35. This is a potentially serious threat to the economy of my country (New Zealand). Although our population is small (4m) we account for some 25% of the world’s dairy exports.

    The US is a difficult trading partner for agricultural produce, with barriers of different kinds. The result, unsurprisingly, is less choice and lower quality for the American eater.

  36. juanslayton says:
    July 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Hoser: Where do you think your Micky D burgers come from? Why is it so cheap? Old dairy cattle have to go somewhere. You’re eating Granny Bossie.

    Read somewhere that Holsteins make bad beef. Didn’t believe it, so I bought a day-old calf and raised it to maturity. Had it slaughtered and frozen. Cooked some and became a believer. (Most of it then went for dog food.) Hoser, you should listen to the farmers. Bossie doesn’t go to McDonalds.
    ***************
    I claim no expertise in the matter, but I understand some breeds (e.g. Friesian) are good for both milk and meat. And surely most male calves are raised for meat and slaughtered young (except for the studs)?

  37. I milked cows until I left home for college. Raw milk is a separate target for the green doogooders. Raw milk consumers have lower rates of lactose intolerance, allergies and lower rates of diabetes. About 5 years ago I saw some numbers on a PEtA site in the millions in regards to manure when in my head, the same operation was more likely to produce only thousands pounds and consume only thousands of gallons of water over the same time period. The numbers on manure output and water consumption were totally false. I also saw manure for fertilizer for organic farms. Dairy is a great industry and beneficial for nutrition. The extremists are attacking livestock from many diferent angles. (see the story of the feedlot in Australia)
    When you have political attacks on an industry, you will usually find a lot of false data.

  38. Myron Mesecke
    July 19, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    I’m lactose intolerant so don’t blame me.
    ###

    I’m lactose intolerant also, so I’m always blamed, even if it wasn’t me :(

  39. Bossie doesn’t go to McDonalds.

    Bossie also doesn’t disappear without a trace. Nothing is wasted. Google “cull cattle” for a good education in commercial animal production.

  40. @ Smokey
    The meter spinning backwards indicates more electricity produced than used. The excess is fed back to the grid. This subsidy was meant to reduce brown-outs and black-outs. How much electricity is provided by the manure of 270 cows, I have no idea. The Straus farm website gives no data on that. The post above references a dairy farm with 10,000 cows, probably a bit more electricity available to the grid. While there are 1,950 commercial dairies in operation in California and nearly 2 million dairy cows, probably alot more electricity to the grid. If the cost of coal or nuclear generation of electricity is equal to or less than the investment on methane digestion then scrap it, If the methane digestion is cheaper then run with it.

  41. They are systematically attacking every source of support that humankind has. Food, energy, housing, and I am sure they are going to condemn us for all the esters we kill making our clothes from polyester. In short, those who cannot see that at least the end result of their actions (if not their actual intent) is genocide of the human species are indeed myopic.

  42. http://www.elmhurst.edu/~chm/onlcourse/chm110/outlines/nitrogencycle.html

    “The results indicated that, on average, the facility generated 3,575 pounds of ammonia, 33,092 pounds of methane and 409 pounds of nitrous oxide every day. The open lot areas generated 78 percent of the facility’s ammonia, 57 percent of its nitrous oxide and 74 percent of the facility’s methane emissions during the spring.”

    I was riding my bike in the country today long before sunrise and watched the soybeans that looked very fine after a recent rain and steady 100 degree temps.
    The link shows the NO2 N and amonia cycle and the soil nitrogen fixation cycle of soybeans.

    The dairy farm spreads liquids which may have concentration of ammonia. This a nature biocycle.

  43. Mark Reau,

    Thanks for your explanation. If it was up to me, I’d eliminate all taxpayer subsidies on everything; solar, gas, religion, rents, banks, non-profits, windmills, mass transit, etc., etc. The free market always provides what is necessary and/or in demand, at the lowest net price. Subsidies are just a hidden cost that special interests benefit from at the expense of the entire taxpaying public.

    [/rant]

  44. We should eliminate all meat and animal products. Beans produce hardly any… oh, wait!

    Best,
    Frank

  45. This seems like quack science. How is the methane produced when vegetation is digested by bacteria in an animal’s gut any different from methane produced when vegetation dies and is digested by bacteria in rotting?

  46. From Claude Harvey on July 19, 2011 at 9:29 am:

    The solution to the bovine methane “problem” is simple and straightforward; afterburners. (…)

    Hey now, you’re ripping off my intellectual property rights! I suggested “pilot lights” back here, also mentioned here. Converting it to “jaw-powered, piezoelectric igniters” does not make it “new and innovative”!

    And “stern-mounted, turbo-expander/generators” just sounds silly. How can you get a tight-enough gas seal for the efficiency that accommodates the quick release of the “solid product” before it mucks up the works? You’d need a Stirling-type generator that allows for an open-air heat source. Really, you need to completely think such innovations through if you want that research grant money!

  47. It is actually about no-bodies becoming relevant. They are lower down the food chain in the fame & funding hierachy. This increases their chances of a big cheque.
    Besides, how cam Morrie Strong and gang get rid of 6 billion people without an invented calamity??
    regards

  48. Considering how much hay and fodder and other greenery that does not rot, decompose, and otherwise release methane, cows are just recycling to make meat and milk out of grass that would otherwise just release the methane as the grass pleased without due consideration for the rest of us, excepting hippies without weed.

  49. Coldfinger says:
    July 19, 2011 at 2:23 pm
    This seems like quack science.

    Soooo, quack science = quack tax. Sounds like a duck to me.

  50. It seems that we can’t stop grass growing. If a ruminant eats it, methane is pretty much guaranteed to result. Certain camps would much prefer us all to become vegetarian, but we know what effect that kind of diet has on the human digestive system.

    Well if they are going to tax cattle, I am going to lobby for a tax on termites, which globally are estimated to produce 20 million tonnes of methane per year. http://www.ghgonline.org/methanetermite.htm I wonder if WWF would care to pay it – after all termites are wildlife.

  51. The other issue is that Methane levels in the atmosphere will soon stabilize.

    Barrow Alaska which has more-or-less the highest numbers in the world and leads the trends over the rest of the planet – current numbers are below last year at this time but there was bump in the last few years.

    So, Cows did not cause the increase in global Methane levels and are contributing Zero to the roughly Zero change in Methane levels.

    It is/was escaping natural gas (which is roughly 98% Methane) from the oil and gas industry. As natural gas become more valuable, more and more of the leaks were plugged and they didn’t just let it escape into the atmosphere and/or incompletely burn it. [The new natural gas sources from shale fracking will probably make natural gas so inexpensive again, the industry might just start letting "accidents" happen again but that is for another day]

    This explanation fits the data better than ruminant numbers or rice paddies or permafrost etc.

  52. @smokey : re oil subsidies
    “For those seeking to sort out the definitions of the terms being used, the American Petroleum Institute has published a new paper doing just that.

    Contrary to what some in politics and the media have said, the oil and natural gas industry currently enjoys no unique tax credits or deductions. Since its inception, the US tax code has allowed corporate tax payers the ability to recover costs and to be taxed only on net income. These cost recovery mechanisms, also known in policy circles as “tax expenditures”, should in no way be confused with “subsidies”, i.e., direct government spending.

    Here are a few of the items which are being incorrectly identified as “subsidies” inside the beltway:

    Intangible Drilling Costs – Companies which engage purely in energy exploration and discovery can recover their costs related to exploration at tax time at a rate of 100%. This lessens the burden on energy providers for the number of “dry holes” which may be found in the process. Integrated companies (i.e. “big oil”) can recover these exploration costs at 70%. Not a subsidy.
    Domestic Manufacturer’s Deduction (Section 199) – A deduction (not a credit) equal to 9% of income earned from manufacturing, producing, growing or extracting in the United States, is available to every single taxpayer who qualifies in the U.S. The oil and gas industry, and only the oil and gas industry, is limited to a 6% deduction.

    Percentage Depletion – The percentage depletion deduction is a cost recovery method that allows taxpayers to recover their lease investment in a mineral interest through a percentage of gross income from a well. This depletion method is not available to companies that produce oil as well as refine and market it (i.e. “Big Oil”.) This is available to all extractive industries (gold, iron, clay, etc) in the US and is in no way unique to the oil and gas industry.”

    http://hotair.com/archives/2011/05/03/oil-company-subsidies-clarified/

  53. Jim G says
    These people all want to starve in the dark if they don’t freeze to death first.

    No, they want YOU to starve and freeze. Killing people, or at least torturing them, is their real aim.

  54. Stumpy says:
    And mow much co2 do the cows and their food crop “sequest” during the cows lifetime? Probably the same amount making it neutral, as the cycle uses current co2, the cow farts are not fuelled by fossil fuels that are not part of the current co2 cycle.

    Oh yes, they do come from fossil fuels, as CO2 causes grass to fluorish, which then feeds the cow. Similar results could be obtained for endangered beasties, given the right research. This is why it is MURDER to panic about CO2, and why I say these lunatic greens are the worst thing there is for the environment.

  55. Gary Mount,

    Thank you for making that distinction. I agree that normal business expenditures should be deductible against profits. It is the government’s subsidizing of favored businesses [GM, etc.], and the tax-free status of many overtly political “charitable” trusts and similar Watermelon organizations like the WWF, Media Matters and Greenpeace that I object to.

  56. juanslayton says:
    July 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Annecdotal evidence is insufficient. See:

    http://www.cggc.duke.edu/environment/valuechainanalysis/CGGC_BeefDairyReport_2-16-09.pdf

    “Dairy beef,” enters the U.S. beef industry value chain laterally, from the
    dairy industry. A portion of the U.S. beef industry is made up of dairy beef that comes from
    cows culled from dairy herds because, for age or other reasons, they are not productive for
    dairy purposes. An estimated 18% of total beef and veal production originates from dairy
    cattle (Mathews, 2008). The meat from culled dairy cows is primarily processed into ground
    beef for fast food hamburgers or supermarket retail.

  57. Where is the global warmers’ graph with the squiggly lines and a straight line sloping upwards?

    Man feeds cow. Man drinks white cow product, eats cow meat product and drives to the grocery store to get it. It’s all man’s fault!

  58. Hoser says: Dang I wish I could go back and edit that.

    No need to. I stand corrected. But the Holstein went to the dogs.

  59. These globocrat policy makers are going to force us to live the way they want by making things they disapprove of more expensive for us.

  60. Environmentalists think they are so smart, but they named a golf cart a “Smart Car” how smart is that?

  61. What I find ludicrous about these studies blaming Methane from cows (farts) for Global warming. or any other animal or human farts for that matter. Have they measured how for the methane gas goes once its been released from a cows behind? Its highy unlikely methane from a cow is going to get into the right up into the atmosphere to cause any alleged AGW/CC problem anyway?. I don’t see cows going around with large chimneys attached to their behinds. So I say again its ludicrous. And of course the grass carbon cycle is an offset anyway.

    We have exactly the same problem with this rubbish here in NZ and dairy farming. Faux science at its worst IMHO!

  62. What the bed wetters fail to realise is that we are all “big industry”. Where do they think all the stuff they consume comes from? Where do they think that most people work?

  63. Paul Deacon;
    And surely most male calves are raised for meat and slaughtered young (except for the studs)?>>>

    Nope, they get their kahonies removed. That’s what a “steer” is.

  64. As far as I can tell, pretty much every source of food there is produces GHG’s.

    And GHG’s lead to a warmer planet.

    Which will result in less food and mass starvation.

    So obviously, the thing to do is stop producing food.

    Wait a sec….

    Let me go through this logic again, I’m missing something here….

  65. davidmhoffer says:
    July 20, 2011 at 2:03 am

    Paul Deacon;
    And surely most male calves are raised for meat and slaughtered young (except for the studs)?>>>

    Nope, they get their kahonies removed. That’s what a “steer” is.
    *************
    What I meant. The steers are slaughtered young, surely (or do you eat old steers over there?).

    All the best

  66. We have pig farms in Oz that utilize methane to run their electricity. Were mammoths ruminants?
    I’m studying my Diploma in Organic Agricultural production, and methane is reabsorbed by the soil. But the greens here wanted to put a tax on beef and sheep because of their methane
    production, at $11 per head of cattle (including dairy) and $7 on sheep. We have billions of sheep and cattle in Oz. That was run out of town, and the ads that ran ‘even if all carbon emissions were nil tomorrow, that cattle and sheep methane production would still warm the planet. Eat veg not meat? Not kidding they are trying the same thing in UK, showing those hairy highland cattle saying that cows and bi products have a higher carbon footprint then chickens?
    OH Gawd! So have humans a bigger carbon footprint than chickens, stupid @@@@s They are paid for this illuminating announcement?

  67. Don’t belittle the importance of this sort of BS. In New Zealand, we now have a law that in 2015 all agricultural businesses will have to pay for their emissions. It’s called a carbon tax by the politicians and a fart tax by the farmers. New Zealand is a great test-bed of social experimentation. A nice compliant, discreet population with a silent majority at about 99.9%. Policies are often introduced in NZ before adoption by Australia. Once the downunder crowd has adopted modern technologies, concepts or legislation, it is so much easier for larger economies to drive the wedge home.

    So, to reiterate – New Zealand farmers, by law, will have to start paying for cow burps by 2015. The average estimate of tax burden is somewhere around $40,000 per annum per farm. The fact that the consumption of grass-sequestered CO2 is a natural part of the carbon cycle has completely escaped the notice of our esteemed but logically challenged politicians. It is not about the science, folks – it is all about revenue. Be afraid.

  68. This type of study is old hat. The wasteful aspects of cattle production are well-researched and documented. The cow is so inefficient you wouldn’t get a patent on it if you invented it.

    The losses of methane and reactive nitrogen from cattle are important because they represent lost profit – feed costs money, whether it be grass or corn, organic or not. Whether or not GHG emissions are worth worrying about is moot. In the UK, there is no choice, thanks to the Climate Change Act. But – if you think that diffuse water pollution by nitrate and phosphate from agriculture and sewage is insignificant – think again. It degrades your environment, from ditch, to stream, to river, to sea. Fixes abound, but they all cost, and food-price inflation is a hot-potato for governments everywhere.

    This will still be an issue when the current crapola is a distant speck in the rear-view memory.

  69. Worried about those wanting to fit afterburners to cows, think like a bull? and then revise – no bull!!

  70. Methane production from ruminants is reabsorbed into the soil. I didn’t think the NZ law was passed yet? However, the same has been suggested in Oz by the Garnaut report who also said
    farmers should farm kangaroos instead of beef or sheep. (There goes are diary and wool industries?) forgetting kangaroos are marsupials, and haven’t been domesticated. Chemical
    fertilizers are damaging to the environment they are a quick fix band aid for soil fertility and destroy microbiology that helps plants and pasture forage to absorb necessary nutrients via microbiology. Well of course the PETA and Animals Australia want us to stop eating meat. Stop domesticating animals and having pets. Carbon taxes will do nothing to improve the environment and is a stealth tax promoted by carbon traders and banks. Sack the government who want this.

  71. It seems like every day, another government agency cries out to be de-funded. Is this really a legitimate function of USDA and our tax dollars? Don’t we have all of this crying about a debt limit and possible default (assume for a moment that hitting the debt ceiling would result in default, which would only happen if the president directed the treasury to stop paying the debt – tax revenues are enough to cover debt payments).

  72. I luv the moo and moo pooh, so dissenters stop slandering our faithful domesticate that is a loving mum too. LOL and good night from Oz.

  73. Paul Deacon;
    What I meant. The steers are slaughtered young, surely (or do you eat old steers over there?).>>>

    Slaughter would be at maturity just like heifers raised for meat production. Slaughter as calves would be “veal”. Bulls and anything old aren’t likely to become anything but pet food.

  74. Owen says:
    I have never understood why the containment ponds aren’t designed to capture that methane, clean it and use it to power generators and heat water for sanitizing the milk equipment. Seems like a waste of a valuable resource once one gets past the smell.
    Especially considering this is done when it comes to sewage treatment plants. Which also have to deal with all sorts of “contamination” such as detergents and toilet paper.

  75. Grew up on a farm raising cattle (not dairy). Here’s what happens to all that excess ammonia, methane and nitrous oxide.

    Farmers are highly efficient and waste nothing. Ever hear of a manure spreader? The cow “poop” is shoveled into a spreader, taken out to a pasture and spread to fertilize the grasses. The grass helps convert it into plant material, also taking UP CO2 to become more grass. If you’ve ever worked a farm, you’ll know..the paths of the manure spreader are greener and taller than the rest of the grass. Also, it eliminates the need for other fertilizers, including ammonia and phosphates. Less air and water pollution.

    See? We’re fighting global warming. But, I don’t expect any of the bureuacrats at the USDA to know anything about what actually goes on at a farm….much like the new EPA Director doesn’t know the ppm of CO2 in our atmosphere.

  76. afraid4me,
    You’re right about the grass taking up some carbon. Actually, the trick is to burn the methane. Any CO2 release from burning methane from cows is renewable, sustainable, biofuel-derived CO2–since it came from recent vegetation that the cows ate. If we fail to burn the methane, I believe that methane only lasts for around 12 years before being oxidized by other means in the atmosphere. So, if we can reduce the release of methane, we can see a relief from it’s warming effect rather quickly. (Totally unlike the more urgent fossil CO2 problem.)

  77. DesertYote says:
    July 19, 2011 at 9:03 am

    “One third of a pound of ammonia per cow per day? One pound of methane per cow per day? I don’t think these number pass the sniff test :) ”

    Not a milk producer, but probably close in consumption rate.

    “In general, a brood cow will eat about 2% of her body weight everyday. So, a typical 1200 lb cow will need 24 lbs of dry hay per day”

    http://www.caes.uga.edu/commodities/fieldcrops/forages/Ga_Cat_Arc/2009/GC0901.pdf

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