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Cows That Burp Less Methane to Be Bred

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the belching-bovines dept.

Earth 366

Canadian scientists are breeding a type of cow that burps less, in an attempt to reduce greenhouse gases. Cows are responsible for almost 75% of total methane emissions, mostly coming from burps. Stephen Moore, professor of agricultural, food and nutritional science at the University of Alberta, hopes the refined bovines will produce 25 per cent less methane. Nancy Hirshberg, spokesman for Stonyfield Farm says, "If every US dairy farmer reduced emissions by 12 per cent it would be equal to about half a million cars being taken off the road."

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More cowbell (3, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455043)

More cowbell [wikipedia.org] , less cow-burp.

Easy alternative (4, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455045)

Or we could raise and eat fewer cows.

Eat Mor Chikin? (4, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455111)

Or perhaps we should pig out on pork, the other white meat.

Re:Eat Mor Chikin? (-1)

leenks (906881) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455581)

Pork is classed as a red meat (in case your post wasn't intended to be insightful!)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_meat [wikipedia.org]

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4088824.stm [bbc.co.uk]

And bucketloads of other sources.

Re:Eat Mor Chikin? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28455727)

Actually, your Wikipedia link says pork is white meat.

Re:Eat Mor Chikin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28455875)

I think he was referring to an advertising campaign the pork industry did a few years back that had the slogan "Pork, the other white meat".

Re:Eat Mor Chikin? (3, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455689)

Attention grammar nazis: In case you're not from the U.S., or don't have one located near you, "Eat Mor Chikin" is an advertising slogan [chick-fil-a.com] used by Chick-Fil-A, a chain of quick-service restaurants that specialize in chicken sandwiches, in their advertising and commercials, which feature cows, who, of course, can't spell.

Re:Easy alternative (2, Insightful)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455127)

I'm not to worried about the cows anyway.

There have been animals around on earth a long time, and the cows are likely to be pushing away some other species, but overall the methane release into the atmosphere wouldn't be that different throughout history.

An attack on animals farting seems to be plain stupid related to so many other factors involved.

Re:Easy alternative (2, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455345)

You do realize that the world's cow population has increased substantially over time, don't you? Also of note, ruminants produce substantially more methane than most other flavors of animal, because of their particular digestive setup.

Re:Easy alternative (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28455509)

Yeah, but the giant herds of buffalo and other large mammals has decreased by the billions over the last few thousand years. So it equals out in the end.

We need less people, not less cows.

Re:Easy alternative (2)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455907)

We need less people, not less cows.

That's the spirit! We've been attacking this problem from the wrong angle. Since it is obvious that Man is responsible for climate change, we can just eliminate the species from the Earth and solve all our climate change problems.

Now, who to inherit the Earth once Homo sapien has been removed?

Re:Easy alternative (4, Funny)

badfish99 (826052) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455983)

I thought everyone was agreed that the cockroaches were next in line?

Re:Easy alternative (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455943)

Yeah, but the giant herds of buffalo and other large mammals has decreased by the billions over the last few thousand years. So it equals out in the end.

The historic buffalo population is estimated at 60 million [americanwest.com] . So your estimate for the current bison population is several billion negative buffalo?

Re:Easy alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28455883)

Also of note, ruminants produce substantially more methane than most other flavors of animal...
Ruminant is my favorite flavor of animal. Hmmm...Ruminant.

Re:Easy alternative (4, Informative)

Cedric Tsui (890887) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455369)

But there are many more cows per square kilometer in farm land than there are other animals.

Furthermore. Most animals don't have the 4 stomach system using anaerobic bacterial digestion. That's what makes the methane.

Re:Easy alternative (4, Insightful)

Celeste R (1002377) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455465)

Regardless of how we want to spin it, our world is changing. Managing those changes before they overwhelm us is important too.

Re:Easy alternative (1)

Chabo (880571) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455639)

How do you know that this will produce an overall benefit? What if, by making cows produce less methane, we upset the balance of our atmosphere such that we induce global warming, or a new ice age?

Re:Easy alternative (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455881)

That's a very tough stretch, are you suggesting the cows would produce something else instead, or that methane reduces global warming.

and a side note, related to your sig, FLACs aren't portable?

Re:Easy alternative (2, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455941)

Thing is that cows are carbon neutral. And carbon methane only has a half-life in the atmosphere of about 7 years, so the whole "carbon methane is more damaging than CO2" stuff is just complete nonsense.

The real question we need to ask ourselves is this:

Why is that we seem to have such a hard time divorcing the science from the politics and pseudoscience? I'm not one of those "global warming is BS" freaks, but as someone concerened about pollution and the effects of human activities on the ecosphere, I wish we would focus more on science and less on politics.

Re:Easy alternative (5, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455493)

There have been animals around on earth a long time

Not all animals are ruminants. Ruminants release methane due to enteric fermentation. Ruminants are a relatively development on the evolutionary tree. Furthermore, our large population of them in modern times is sustained only through high density industrial agriculture. For example, probably the greatest natural landscape for large grazing herd animals today are the Serengeti and Masai Mara plains. Combined, they only support 1.5 million wildebeest. Even the massive bison herds that once spread across the entire great plains numbered at only 60 million. We raise, what, 1.3 billion cattle?

History has never seen anywhere close to as many ruminants on the surface of the earth as we have today. Thank modern industrial agriculture for that.

Re:Easy alternative (2, Informative)

Jonathan (5011) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455673)

1) As people have already said, there weren't *nearly* as many cows around before we started making them a major part of our diet
2) The cows that *were* around ate grass. Feeding cows corn, as farmers tend to do, fattens them up but gives them much more gas.

Re:Easy alternative (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28455283)

It's not just about meat. Neither will you get dairy products without cows or other livestock.

Re:Easy alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28455387)

Dairy products shouldn't even exist. Show me one other animal who consumes another species' milk, let alone an animal that consumes milk beyond infancy.

a) Human infants should only be consuming milk from one source: his/her mother's breasts.

b) Human adults should not be drinking milk from any source.

I've never understood why humans drink cow's milk. It's not natural.

Re:Easy alternative (5, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455605)

I've never understood why humans drink cow's milk. It's not natural.

It is now. Most mammals become lactose-interolant after infancy; it helps discourage continued breastfeeding. Humans have evolved lactose tolerance. A diet of dairy is supported by our genes. As for what's "natural", nature has evolved all sorts of crazy feeding systems that don't involve killing the animal -- dung eaters, ants farming honeydew from aphids, flesh parasites, intestinal parasites, blood feeders, etc. Why is this particular method any less unusual than them? I'd say it's far more humane than killing the animals for food -- nature's primary modus operandi.

Re:Easy alternative (5, Insightful)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455917)

Basically most animals spend 80% of their awake time foraging for food, that's why we don't need to copy "nature" and instead alter our diets to allow a lifestyle.

Show me one other animal who consumes another species' milk

well growing up on a farm, I have personally watched: cats, dogs, birds, pigs, numerous insects, and mice that drink other animals milk. basically about equal percentage do vs don't. maybe most don't require it in their diet (except many bacteria) or compose a regular portion of their diet (again similar to humans), but then again their is no single item in most animals diets they couldn't do without.
Similar arguments would make more sense with cooked/steamed foods (IE a good chunk of our diet, even a vegans diet) that no other animals follow that. Although humans don't require even meat to be cooked, just ones who haven't grown up eating raw meats. Same with processed foods, drinks, refrigerated items. Basically your argument works against most everything humans eat in the modern conviences.

Re:Easy alternative (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455285)

So long as you figure out a way to raise bare burgers and ribeyes, I'm all for that one.

Re:Easy alternative (5, Informative)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455301)

Or put them back on their natural grazing diet. They only output so much gas because they're not eating what they naturally would.

That would, in turn, force us to raise and eat fewer cows.

Re:Easy alternative (1)

Henry V .009 (518000) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455385)

And then we could live with all the health consequences of high-carbohydrate diets. Which, if we take American's obesity trends after the move towards higher-carbohydrate diets since the 1970s, cost a damn sight more than global warming ever could.

Re:Easy alternative (2, Informative)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455709)

High carb isn't the problem, low fiber is.

Re:Easy alternative (4, Insightful)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455793)

And then we could live with all the health consequences of high-carbohydrate diets. Which, if we take American's obesity trends after the move towards higher-carbohydrate diets since the 1970s, cost a damn sight more than global warming ever could.

Don't be fooled by the diet industry. Diets composed of almost exclusively carbohydrates are common among many the healthiest, most long-lived people in the world. Other extremely healthy people eat mostly fatty meats. Others eat mostly vegetables and fish. There are many paths to healthy eating, but all of them include a few common threads, such as eating less food.

To quote Michael Pollan, "Eat food. Note too much. Mostly plants."

Re:Easy alternative (2, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455821)

One, beef and grains are not the only foods in existence. It's not a binary choice. And two, almost any health professional would tell you that a high-carb diet is preferable to a high cholesterol diet in terms of health consequences. There's a reason that the medical community was so against the Atkins diet. Atkins himself had had a heart attack, congestive heart failure, and hypertension late in his life (which he adimantly insisted had nothing to do with his high-fat diet -- really!), and it may ultimately have contributed to his death (although the primary cause appears to have been head injury). He was 6' and 258lbs [thesmokinggun.com] at his time of death. Again, his family insists he gained 60 pounds during the coma after he fell. No, really. And even if that was the case, he'd still be "overweight" when he was injured.

Re:Easy alternative (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455607)

There is nothing natural about cows. They have been bred to be unsuitable for any niche with predators in it; no gene-line descending from the current livestock breeds would have much of a chance of finding a natural niche.

However, it is true that grass-fed, open-range cattle are not only healthier, but more environmentally sustainable. In fact, it may be the least destructive form of food-production there is: it's less destructive than crop-planting.

Re:Easy alternative (1)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455745)

They are proposing multiple solutions that can work together. Solution one, the one that makes for a good headline, is to use selective breeding to select against the genes that cause an overproduction of methane in the cow's gut, though they're also looking at genes that make the cow more efficient about converting food to muscle, so the food will ferment less in their stomachs. Solution two is to get them on a high energy diet. They make methane because the food they eat ferments in their stomach. Corn ferments a lot. Grass ferments a lot too, but not as much as corn. Higher fat vegetable sources like seeds don't ferment nearly as much, but are very expensive compared to corn or grass.

Fix the consumers (1)

Camel Pilot (78781) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455449)

Right, why not attack the heart of the problem.

Breed (or Engineer) humans that are predisposed towards the herbivore end of the omnivore scale. Such an attribute would also be better suited to space travel/living.

Re:Fix the consumers (2, Funny)

dzfoo (772245) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455523)

Most humans are already predisposed towards the herbivore end, that's why we breed so many cows, rather than, say, bobcats.

        -dZ.

Re:Fix the consumers (1)

Camel Pilot (78781) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455975)

Ha ha good reply. I suppose we don't raise other mammal carnivores for food... as perhaps a professional courtesy.

Re:Easy alternative (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455497)

Or we could raise and eat fewer cows.

I agree. Of course I like various forms of meat and steak; but I try to balance my diet with other substances; like vegetables, fruit, salads and other relatively health articles. While I do not feel comfortable telling people what they should or shouldn't eat; the amount of meat being consumed; or even more importantly the amount of meat (and other food articles) that are simply wasted by the system; is staggering.

While I can not see a simple solution to improving the way we produce and consume food; I believe many changes will come over the next decades and beyond. One of them being the almost ridiculous reliance on cheap oil. Cheap oil means cheap corn, means cheap cow stuffing, meaning cheap meat. When oil prices increase, and they will increase (especially with China and India seeing a massive growth in oil consumption), food prices will soar. Or at least some food products will see a great price increase for a period of time; until the what, how and where we eat adapts to the new state of affairs, or we find new and better ways to produce food at the current scale. But at the moment every link in the chain is reliant upon the price of oil; sowing, harvesting and transportation to name but a few.

While creating "better cows" with less methane production is definitely a good thing; if it works as advertised; it isn't the only thing. If you want to learn a bit more about the food production, as regards to the USA, I found Michael Pollan's Deep Agriculture [fora.tv] interesting.

Re:Easy alternative (1)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455595)

I always laugh when people suggest the 'obvious' solution.... it either equates to, over fishing, destroying rain forest, inhumane treatment of farm animals, or well too much gas. Fact is the real problem is there are too many human beings... not only that these human beings eat a lot and we mess a lot.

Bottom line is the earth simply cannot handle it. In 1950 the world population wa below 3 Billion, in less than a generation we have doubled that. projections show that we will hit 1o billion by 2010.

http://www.treehugger.com/World-Population-Growth-2050.JPG [treehugger.com]

With the oceans over fished, rain forest being destroyed for farm land, and farm land being turned into industrial and commerce how are we planning to feed all these people ?

There is only one solution

http://scienceblogs.com/neurotopia/condom%20cartoon.jpg [scienceblogs.com]

Re:Easy alternative (4, Interesting)

panthroman (1415081) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455755)

Seriously. Obviously 12% fewer cattle is the methane equivalent of "half a million cars off the road," according to their PR lady. So if everyone ate 12% less beef/dairy...

If you eat beef twice a week, then a 12% reduction is skipping one beef meal a month. One of the biggest 'vegetarian movement' mistakes was to paint vegetarianism as a black & white issue. If one meal a month can make this kind of environmental difference, vegetarians might do more for their cause if they applauded and promoted meat in moderation.

Re:Easy alternative (2, Funny)

randomaxe (673239) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455871)

So, you're suggesting that we supplement with more bacon?

Re:Easy alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28455939)

Fuck that. I need my beef. Gimme steak, burgers, and all the rest

The critical question (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455075)

Will burp-free cows be as tasty? Produce as much milk?

And then the question has to be asked, why not just breed them to only make big burps, fit their stomach with a methane extraction tube, and collect it for later use?

Re:The critical question (1)

oneirophrenos (1500619) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455571)

Will burp-free cows be as tasty? Produce as much milk?

Yeah, I was thinking about this... If they select only the burp-less cows to be bred, what if that means they select the ones that also produce less meat or milk? Then they'd have to raise more cows to meet the demands and the advantage of having cows that burp less is lost.

Cool...less burps! Green cows! (1)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455103)

But what about farts?

Re:Cool...less burps! Green cows! (2, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455179)

But what about farts?
--
I live in my mom's basement, but I'm 15.

Ah, I see now.... :)

Re:Cool...less burps! Green cows! (1)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455591)

To answer your question, and that of all the other people being clever, the article says they produce less methane in their gut, not that they burp less...

Re:Cool...less burps! Green cows! (1)

Janeshat (1388077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455785)

Learn your cow biology people!
They have to belch up their food and re-chew it several times before they ever fart or poop. to 3 or 4 belches to one fart ratio in cows.

Re:Cool...less burps! Green cows! (1)

SomeWhiteGuy (920943) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455823)

Tax the Sh*t out of them... no pun intended. Cow Fart News [google.com]

Alway more cowbell! (0)

JesterUSCG (1371271) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455129)

Or we could just ship all the burping cows to Al Gore's house and he could create a documentary about burping cows.... I mean really, your tax dollars at work here people!

In unrelated news... (3, Funny)

nadamsieee (708934) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455157)

An unexplained rash of spontaneous cow explosions has resulted in a glut in the Canadian beef market...

Re:In unrelated news... (3, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455217)

An unexplained rash of spontaneous cow explosions has resulted in a glut in the Canadian beef market...

      Actually the glut is now all around and outside the Canadian beef market...

Grass (5, Informative)

Prien715 (251944) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455165)

Or you could have cows eat grass [google.com] which does the same thing, and has nutritional benefits for the consumer. I know, it's radical.

Re:Grass (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455231)

But how does King Corn make money from cattle eating grass?

Or did Monsanto patent grass?

Re:Grass (1)

bzzfzz (1542813) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455789)

A more relevant questions is: How does the dairy farmer make money using a lower quality, higher cost feed? Profit margins are thin in that business, and a 10% change in feed costs is enough to bankrupt an operation. Unless you are selling your milk to a customer that will pay extra for environmentally correct practices (as in TFA), it doesn't work.

I for one..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28455659)

Or you could have cows eat grass [google.com] which does the same thing, and has nutritional benefits for the consumer. I know, it's radical.

as a representative of the corn lobby would like to be the first to say.......HERETIC!

Junk science behind the grass (1)

bzzfzz (1542813) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455711)

The science behind such a change is unconvincing as far as greenhouse gasses are concerned. Dairy cattle on a grass diet produce less milk over their lifetime; I know, I had a neighbor who ran a grazing herd for a while, so that has to be considered. And the indirect measures for methane emissions they use are weakly correlated. Measuring the actual methane output from a cow in a typical farm setting is not technologically feasible.

To be sure, there are other environmental benefits, chiefly involving soil conservation.

Re:Grass (1)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455865)

RTFA, that's exactly what they're suggesting, in addition to breeding out the genes that make them overproduce methane. In fact, read your own link, too, because it suggests creating new bacteria that don't make as much methane, which is a bit more radical than simple selective breeding...

Ridiculous (4, Funny)

Clandestine_Blaze (1019274) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455171)

Just udderly ridiculous!

Less but... (1, Insightful)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455173)

Just because they burp less doesn't necessarily mean they produce less methane... "We made a cow that burps less. However, it farts more."

Sounds familiar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28455191)

Cows... Stonyfield... anyone?

Re:Sounds familiar (1)

t0rkm3 (666910) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455315)

Stonyfield Farms makes a pretty decent, if high sugar, organic yogurt...

Other than that, I have no idea.

Eyes do funny things... (2, Funny)

DudeTheMath (522264) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455197)

Did anyone else read that as taking "half a million cows ... off the road"? No? Just me, then.

Why doesn't this go away? (4, Insightful)

NekSnappa (803141) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455221)

I swear this is this most asinine thing around in the man made climate change circles. And yet it comes up again and again!

There are environmental issues with industrial livestock production. I just don't think this has a big enough impact on the environment to warrant the effort put into it.

As some one who lives in So. Maryland and enjoys kayaking in the Chesapeake Bay watershed I'm much more concerned with the nitrogen run-off from all of the poultry farms on the eastern shore. But Tyson, Purdue, etc. have such a large lobby (money wise at least) There won't be too much done about it.

Not to say that the Bay hasn't gotten healthier in the 25 years I've been living here. But between agricultural run-off and turning wetlands into housing developments it's not as good as it could be.

Re:Why doesn't this go away? (1)

Celeste R (1002377) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455429)

Sure, polluted run-off and the diminishing of wetlands are important matters. Eventually, people will be more mindful of those effects. Perhaps keeping the "remember the environment" ball rolling may eventually address those matters closer to your mind.

Every little bit matters, right?

Canadians fulfulling American political promises.. (1)

devleopard (317515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455235)

Sorta. Well, they promised to reduce the bullshit, which we can't do, but here's the next best thing...

Will this really work? (1, Insightful)

Celeste R (1002377) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455239)

A cow that burps less will fart more. Unless the methane coming out of the rear is less than the methane coming out of the front, this won't work.

Personally, I think it would be a lot more effective (and it makes more sense) to genetically engineer the methane-producing bacteria in their digestive tract, solving the problem at the root of the cause. Of course, you'd have to make bacteria that are more efficient than their natural counterparts; but this can be done faster and cheaper than raising generations of genetically engineered cattle would be.

Re:Will this really work? (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455661)

A cow that burps less will fart more.

Sure, but then we just rig up a setup which lights them off, converting the methane to the lesser greenhouse gas CO2. And also giving the cow a useful way to kill annoying insects.

Re:Will this really work? (1)

Janeshat (1388077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455885)

you need to learn cow biology and read the article before you post. you will sound less ignorant then.

Cows belch more than they fart because of their digestive system, so any gas will be belched more than farted.

Plus TFA is about lowing methane levels in the digestive system, not about making them fart or belch less.

If every US dairy farmer... (2, Interesting)

frankxcid (884419) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455251)

I so sick of these type of meaningless statistics that just serve to give good feelings without doing anything useful. They also serve to make things worse when some fool law maker reads this and creates a tax for those farmers who don't reduce their output. The law maker can claim he took half a million cars off the road and meat just costs more while methane will stay the same or increase.

Re:If every US dairy farmer... (1)

Janeshat (1388077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455915)

and how exactly do they measure these farts and belches?
that is a science experiment I want to see.

Veganism (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28455291)

There is now, more than ever, a compelling reason to adopt a vegan lifestyle. Based on the amount of pollution caused in meat and dairy industry, no one can call themselves green who is not also vegan.

Re:Veganism (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455421)

Cue the counter-trolling backed by statistics about how producing vegetables is in countless ways polluting and harmful to the environment in 3, 2, 1...

Re:Veganism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28455839)

It's extremely difficult to be a strict vegan and still have a healthy diet.

Humans are omnivores. That is not a philosophical decision, but a natural fact.

Embargo! (1)

SoundGuyNoise (864550) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455309)

Without methane, who will run Bartertown?

Use it (2, Interesting)

edivad (1186799) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455317)

Just use the darn methane do power your farm. Problem solved!

Bending evolution to suit us :) (1)

hh4m (1549861) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455327)

so it seems natural evolution of the cows ended a long time ago, now the are bein modified and wil eventually evolve with respect to their usability to us instead of the default survival if the fittest!

CotR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28455349)

Wow! With so many things taking more and more cars of the road (CotR), pretty soon it'll be like no one is driving at all. It's my favorite new unit of measurement. What's yours?

Already reducing the number of cattle in the US (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455379)

It would seem that we've already greatly reduced the amount of cattle in the United States. From one estimate, there could have been upwards of 200million bison/buffalo: http://www.emporia.edu/cgps/tales/BISON.htm [emporia.edu]

Compare this with the 2002 Census of Cattle and Calves in 2002: http://www.nass.usda.gov/research/atlas02/Livestock/Cattle/Cattle%20and%20Calves/Cattle%20and%20Calves%20-%20Inventory.gif [usda.gov]

I actually love seeing quotes like, "If every US dairy farmer reduced emissions by 12 per cent it would be equal to about half a million cars being taken off the road." Because it makes it seem like it would be easier to genetically breed "low emission cows" then it would be to take cars off the road. It almost implies that if we reduced enough greenhouse gasses from non-automotive sources we could go back to black smog belching cars/trucks/SUVs.

Re:Already reducing the number of cattle in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28455645)

I for one am very glad you factually included when the 2002 Census of Cattle and Calves occured.

Re:Already reducing the number of cattle in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28455921)

or perhaps he is asking us to compare it back in the year 2002. Let me just hop in my time travel machine...

Meat Vats (4, Interesting)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455419)

Get rid of most of the cow/pig/chicken altogether. Use special meat vats that grow cloned tissue in a special nutrient. No more digestion means no more burps and farts. Place the meat factories in all cities to save on transport. In the long term you could even add infrastructure to pipe liquified meat product directly to restaurants and homes where it could be formed and flavored.

Welcome to the world of the future!

Re:Meat Vats (1)

ewenix (702589) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455543)

mmmmm.....Soylent Green...

Re:Meat Vats (1)

Janeshat (1388077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455971)

actually Soylent Green is a good solution. the problem is too many people!

Stop having 8 children!

Soylent green! (1)

dzfoo (772245) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455633)

It's... its'... peeeeople!

      -dZ.

Re:Meat Vats (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455769)

Use special meat vats that grow cloned tissue in a special nutrient.

OK, figure out how to do this with less energy input and at comparable cost to growing the meat on the cow. Oh, and figure out how to make the meat taste right while you're at it. And do the same for the milk.

A cow is a very complex machine which turns vegetable matter into meat. Doing the same thing artificially (even using actual bovine cells) is not likely to be easy, and doing it as efficiently as the cow does is going to be even harder.

Feed them what nature intended (5, Informative)

futuresheep (531366) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455579)

Corn is not a natural food source for cows. It causes all sorts of issues by changing the ph balance of the cows stomachs, burping included. Feed them grass, alfalfa, and flax like one farmer did. There's no reason to genetically engineer them in this way. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,525590,00.html [foxnews.com] Not only did the burps get cut back, but the cows are healthier cutting vet costs down, and the milk and beef is more nutritious. Milk and beef will cost a bit more, but considering the environmental and nutritional benefits of raising our cattle this way I think it's a fair trade off.

Worse than the cows (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455611)

What really bugs me is the politicians. They produce far more methane than cows.

The gist of the problem (2, Interesting)

mzs (595629) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455623)

The amount of carbon produced by the cow in its lifetime plus decomposition after death is essentially the same as if the cow had never lived and all the corn and soy it would have eaten simply decomposed. The problem is that a cow produces not just carbon in one form, it tends to produce methane (the burps referred to) and methane has a much larger impact in global warming than CO2. The reason that the cows produce large amounts of methane is because the bacteria in their rumen (first stomach) is not right for the diets of mostly corn and soy that they are typically fed and this produces the methane burps. (Incidentally that is why there is relatively little methane in cow farts, almost all of the methane is produced in the rumen.)

So one option is to feed cows mostly grass, that is not sustainable in the large industrial scale used. Another option would be to genetically engineer bacteria that produces less methane and introduce it to the cow rumen. That actually makes more sense than engineering cows with a rumen more like a stomach. Another far fetched option would be to capture the methane, then sequester or burn it outright (the green house gases then are much less harmful).

If you have ever been near an industrial cattle or dairy farm, the stench is unimaginable. In a large cattle farm you can see the methane pockets causing the horizon to wiggle.

LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28455651)

I can't believe so many of you are actually attempting sensible replies where a simple "LOL" would suffice. If restricting or reducing naturally produced animal gases is the key to the future, we might as well just give up now. Seriously, some scientists are actually getting paid for this? Cut down on energy usage and convert to clean power and leave the poor cows alone.

I can already see this coming in a future South Park with a flip-top scientist....

I don't get it... (4, Funny)

hargrand (1301911) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455669)

Why isn't this posted as "Idle"?

the numbers game (1)

dannys42 (61725) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455683)

I'm not sure I understand their numbers. But if reducing all cow emissions by 12% is equivalent to half a million cars, and there are 250 million cars on the road[1], couldn't you do more by reducing emissions from all cars by even 1% ? (Someone whose still in school want to do the math for me?)

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passenger_vehicles_in_the_United_States [wikipedia.org]

Re:the numbers game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28455893)

I'm not sure I understand their numbers. But if reducing all cow emissions by 12% is equivalent to half a million cars, and there are 250 million cars on the road[1], couldn't you do more by reducing emissions from all cars by even 1% ? (Someone whose still in school want to do the math for me?)

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passenger_vehicles_in_the_United_States [wikipedia.org]

Reducing the emmisions from all cars by 1%, based on your numbers, would be equivalent to 2.5 million cars off the road, or 5 times better than all this bull... I mean cow stuff.

FUCK (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28455811)

STOP IT

this is now WAY beyond nonsense

The green movement is now nothing but grifters and snake oil men chasing after obama bucks with ludicrous claims, and predicted outcomes measured in "numbers in cars off the road" per "cost of toyota". Do you know why these claims are measured such? Because any analysis made in REAL WORLD metrics would show all this stuff as the nonsense it is.

And of course, no there are no testable or measurable scientific claims made. You just accept on faith that 75% of the worlds methane comes from cow burps. Because some guy who "loves nature" says so.

I'm all for saving the world and the babies and the puppies, but I can't be the only one sick and tired of the frustration of watching my tax dollars being blatantly wasted on crooked schemes, at the same time my 'government' forces more slimy hands into my pockets in the name of 'the future'.

You can't even count on geeks to think anymore. Common sense is now a superpower.

I'm very tired of global warming (1, Troll)

realcoolguy425 (587426) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455845)

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7a/Atmosphere_gas_proportions.svg/180px-Atmosphere_gas_proportions.svg.png [wikimedia.org] and of the greenhouse gases... http://theglobalhoax.com/science/greenhousegassource.gif [theglobalhoax.com] [decidedly biases source... but you get the idea] Either way, I'm tired of all this global warming... nonsensical, non-scientific, love-fest. Greenhouse gases are not an issue. At least not one we can control beyond the .035% of .03%. Either way, the amount of influence we have on greenhouse gases is likely within the margin of error for test equipment anyway! Lets worry about particulate matter, smog, or at least something that is actual a problem we experience. I feel a little sick whenever I think about how much money has been spent on 'global warming' that could have been spent on so many other environmental pursuits that would actually benefit us. I guess I'll see if Al Gore has modpoints or not today!

If these guys are so worried (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28455877)

Why don't they stop breeding, and leave more resources for the rest of us, oh wait they want power and control, not a better world.

I'm ok with it... (1)

jimbot76 (862223) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455955)

...As long as they don't use the same methods this guy did. [theonion.com]

Why breed cows? (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#28455963)

I fixed my lactose intolerance by introducing a micro-organism into my body (lactobacillus delbrueckii, to replace l. acidophilus, which had failed for some reason). Same can be done with cows, find something that breaks down methane.

Why not USE the methane? (1)

SuperCharlie (1068072) | more than 5 years ago | (#28456019)

We could hook the cows up up Matrix style, a tube in both ends, capture the methane and run our little contraptions. It's not like we're that far away anyways with Confined Feeding Operations. When they stop putting out, we flush them into the grinder for hamburger. SOLVED. Yes this is sarcastic.. Or is it..

Cow-goroos? (2, Interesting)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 5 years ago | (#28456065)

Kangaroos have a different microbe in their gut that captures the methane and makes that energy available to the 'roo. There had been talk of trying to get this microbe into cattle, which would not only reduce the methane output from the cattle but would also make more food energy available to the cow. What ever happened to that?

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