Feeding Cows Daffodils Could be a Game Changer

New trials show that an extract made from the flower can make cows less gassy.

Aug 15, 2023


Feeding Cows Daffodils Could be a Game Changer | New trials show that an extract made from the flower can make cows less gassy.

Daffodils are the national flower of Wales. Besides being beautiful, this delicate flower has medicinal benefits for people and cows. 

A four-year trial conducted by scientists from Scotland's Rural College is showing evidence that daffodils contain an extract that when fed to cows can reduce their methane emissions, reported Euronews.

But not any daffodils will do. Only those flowers that are grown in high altitudes like the Black Mountains in Wales will work.

“We found when we tried to grow daffodils here, all the traditional practices from the daffodil industry didn't work. In the end, we had to throw out the rulebook and completely reinvent the process from start to finish," Kevin Stephens, daffodil farmer and owner of Agroceutical told Euronews.

Only daffodils grown under very specific conditions produce haemanthamine, a plant compound that can help to reduce methane.

What’s the connection between methane and cows?
Methane is the second most common greenhouse gas, reported BBC, and  in the UK, half of the methane emissions come from cows. In fact, 14 percent of greenhouse gasses around the world come from cows' digestive systems.

When the haemanthamin extract was tested in the lab using an artificial cow’s stomach, it showed that when added to cattle feed, methane  gasses could be reduced by 30 percent. It does so by making the cows digestive system more efficient.

Now it is being tested on a number of farms in Wales. “I think this is doing our bit - being part of a trial that could potentially mitigate the impacts of methane in the environment,” Andrew Evans, a farmer in the trial, told BBC.

Could be a gamechanger
The trial is being backed by the British government, reported Euronews. If it is successful, it could be a gamechanger in terms of climate change. Looking at feed to help control emissions is not a new idea. Feeding seaweed to cows to reduce emissions is being studied in the US.

Dr. Alison Bond, Technical Services Manager at Rumenco, a supplier of ruminant feed solutions told Euronews that the extracts positive effects on digestion can also help improve the cattle feed industry. 

“What we also expect to see is an improvement in protein utilization, which means we can start looking at animal diets and perhaps reduce the protein they’re receiving because they can get more from what they’re being fed. That’s also a really promising benefit from this additive," Bond said.

While this solution is not going to be the answer to climate change, reducing methane emissions from cows would make a serious dent in the problem. Who knew that little daffodils could make a big change in the world.

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.