In the context of greenhouse gas emissions that change our climate, the most common is the burning of fossil fuels, but it must be remembered that farm animals also account for the production of a huge amount of methane.
Now, it turns out that an international group of specialists has discovered a way to significantly reduce it, all because of the manipulation of intestinal flora of farm animals. What is of great importance, because although the most common greenhouse gas emitted today is carbon dioxide, methane has a much stronger impact – in the United States it accounts for only 10% of emissions and at the same time can be 25 times more harmful than CO2 in 100 years.
It is formed during the processing of coal, gas and crude oil, but its largest source are gases released from the digestive system of farm animals. And considering that there are more than one billion cattle and the same number of sheep in the world, it is not difficult to guess the extent to which they contribute to the emission of methane and global warming. Therefore, the researchers took to work and tried to find out how to reduce the emission at its source, i.e. in the digestive system of animals.
Therefore, they thoroughly examined the bacterial flora of two groups of sheep, one which emits a lot of methane and the second one, much more economical in emission – they noticed the biggest difference in the microorganisms that consumed hydrogen. With high methane emissions, the predominant group was methanogenic bacteria, consuming hydrogen and giving off methane, and, as is easy to predict, in the low-emission group, bacteria that did not produce methane, reducing acetogens, fumarate, nitrates and sulphates were popular.
In the group producing methane, Clostridium was the most active, while Ruminococcus changed its activity depending on the level of hydrogen in the gut. This knowledge is extremely important, because it turns out that by changing the food of sheep, you can modify their bacterial flora, and thus the amount of methane emitted to the atmosphere. According to the researcher Chris Greening, “We are very excited about this discovery because it has great potential and can lead to a reduction in methane emissions by animal husbandry, which is crucial for the health of our planet.