Myth Buster: Cow Farts Cause Climate Change

May 12, 2015 by Taylor Collins posted on Land + Livestock

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“Cows and other ruminant livestock can save the world!” This revolutionary message is a driving force that fuels my existence. Using EPIC products to educate consumers about animal livestock and land management is certainly one of the most rewarding parts of my job and I am constantly learning more on this topic.

Recently I had an opportunity to hang out with my good friend Chris Kerston at Paleo F(x) 2015. Chris is an amazing human that radiates with exuberance towards life and livestock. He is the Director of Events and Public Outreach at the Savory Institute and leading the charge to saving the world through proper management of livestock and land. Hanging out with Chris is always a blast and our conversations are a stream of lighthearted consciousness. As a former rancher and brilliant environmentalist, he is a world of knowledge that inspires me to live EPIC.

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The most frequent question I get asked when explaining how cows can save the planet is something like… “What about methane? Cows are gaseous animals and growing livestock herds increases the levels of ozone exploding gases and leads to global warming! You’re a nut.” Even my own father said something along these lines to me last week and that’s what prompted me to challenge Chris.

In short I learned that the “research” this notion was founded upon stinks! Similar to the faulty cholesterol and saturated fat research that shaped the Food and Drug Admirations dietary guidelines, the original study looked at unhealthy cows living in unhealthy environments. Specifically this study was conducted on dairy cows that were force fed corn and living in their own feces (CAFO animals). Not only were these animals consuming a diet of poisonous gut exploding grain (which obliterated their intestinal bacteria and threw off their natural ability to digest food), but their feces eventually ended up being washed into a lagoon to become anaerobic. The high concentration of methane gas production was a result of researchers taking measurements in an environmental death zone! Additionally, these poor cows were domesticated non-resilient animals bred to maximize their milk production for human consumption. Another disadvantage to effective digestion.

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When we talk about revolutionary concepts like saving the planet through livestock, we are absolutely NOT talking about high intensity industrial systems! We are talking about evolutionary concepts that are inline with how animals and land have interacted for millions of years. When animals eat the foods they are biologically intended to eat (cows eat grass, NOT corn) they produce far less methane. Additionally, when animals produce biological waste in natural setting, (cows should live in pastures, NOT mud pits) their byproducts actually add nutrients to the land that help create thriving ecosystems and healthy soil.

Now you know how to politely tell your dad or other critics to step out of the 1950’s and enter the present. I will repeat myself again… “Cows and other livestock can save the planet, but ONLY when properly managed.”

To learn more about holistic livestock management check out this TED talk by Allan Savory.