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Compound May Cut Down on Cow Belches

Cattle Cows
Flickr - Chelsea Nesvig

Here's a significant world-wide problem you probably never thought much about - cow belches. Cattle and other livestock are enormous producers of methane, one of the worst elements of global greenhouse gasses. 

Livestock emissions are estimated to cause as much global warming as two billion tons of carbon dioxide. But a Dutch company may have developed a compound which can drastically cut cow belches -a much bigger problem than cattle flatulence.

The compound - called 3-nitrooxypropanol or 3-NOP for short - suppresses bacteria in cows' rumen, the first of four stomach sections. That bacteria ferments to start the digestion process and produces methane.

Doctor Kristen Johnson, a WSU ruminant expert, said the initial study of 3=NOP was small, but she said the results are "absolutely intriguing and worthy of much more research."

She said the research is the most promising yet in the search for ways to cut down livestock methane emissions. Johnson said if the company releases the compound for further study, she'd willingly test it on WSU's herd of dairy cattle.

There are hundreds of thousands of head of cattle in Idaho, Washington and Oregon - about 600,000 dairy cattle in Idaho alone.

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