Be careful which cow you cuddle –

I’m not saying we should go all the way back to Luckenbach, Texas…but the honky-tonks may need to make a quick comeback because cow hugging has become one of the latest wellness trends.

I don’t think that there is anything CBD Oil can do for you if you cuddle the wrong cow.

The trend started in the Netherlands years ago after a Dutch farmer claimed cows to be very relaxed animals that do not fight or get into trouble. They are described as being patient and sweet.

So naturally, it gravitated to the United States and has become more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. The exercise of hugging cows is believed by some to promote positive energy and reduce stress.

We apparently have become so lonely and bored in our society that we have taken to being affectionate with farm animals. It’s said to be therapeutic because of their warm body temperature. It takes several hours to get the full effect.

It runs $75 an hour if it sounds like something that might be fun for you.

Cows look relaxed because they are dumb.

They may have some instinct about themselves, they will protect their young and go toward a bucket of cubes if you shake it in front of them, but do not allow yourself to believe they are smart.

And they start fighting before they even wean from their mamas. There may be some rare special breed that likes to hug, but you are going to want to leave your average Hereford and Charolais alone. Maybe stay a few feet back from Longhorns too. Cattle can be a little unpredictable. That’s why rodeos have clowns.

I’m not a vegetarian, and I am no cow hugger. I never have been that crazy about them myself. Like lots of people in Alabama, I am surrounded by them. Have been for years. I could talk with you about hay season and calving and market prices, but I don’t care for them. I am very appreciative of them, just not a huge fan of the cow.

If you have been thinking you might want to hug a cow, I kind of want to gently recommend you try hugging on a cowboy first – or girl…your preference. See if that helps. If not, and you are still lonely enough to want to grope around on a cow, you should probably call your preacher or the family doctor…not a farmer. Maybe there is a scripture or a prescription.

Cows are really big animals. They are so big their knees squeak when they walk. They eat around the clock. They don’t differentiate between day and night.

They aren’t going to talk to you or give a damn.

They will stomp you into the ground and not even have sense enough to know they have done it. They will just keep on munching. They are not capable of caring. So don’t play pretend and don’t go around hugging random cows.

Don’t do cow pastures like we tend to do cotton fields this time of year. Don’t pull over and run out to get a quick snuggle and pic with first fat heifer you see.

A mask can’t save you from what a cow can do to you.

They probably won’t give you Coronavirus, but they can kill you.

Amanda Walker is a contributor with, The Selma Times Journal, Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, and Alabama Gazette. Contact her at or at

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8 Blocking And Trimming Tips For Dairy Cow Hoof Health – Bovine Veterinarian

Health, welfare and productivity in a dairy cow begin with healthy feet. Sanitation, nutrition, hoof trimming, proper animal handling and maintenance of surfaces all contribute to lameness prevention, but when a cow’s claw becomes infected or injured, timely blocking promotes healing, cow comfort and milk production.

Brad Ingram is the Midwest Regional Sales Manager for Vettec, and serves as the company’s primary bovine hoof-care expert. Ideally, he says, dairies should trim each cow’s feet twice a year, once before dry off and at mid-lactation (about 120 days) as both a routine and corrective measure. Most heifers, he says, begin their hoof maintenance program at about 18 months of age, after their first lactation.

Cows in their dry period after calving are especially susceptible to acidosis and lesions so proper hoof care at the start of the dry off period is crucial. He adds that during the calving period, the stress of being separated from the rest of the herd causes more restless standing, and the cow experiences a natural relaxation prior to calving, which affects the ligaments in the hind legs and results in more movement of the coffin bone, which can angle the bone toward the sole of the foot.

Ingram offers these tips for trimming and blocking

  1. Check the length of the dorsal wall. The dorsal wall is the top of the hoof from the beginning of horn (hard hoof) to the toe. The length on the average animal should be approximately 3.25 “. Correct to this length with a nip or cut at a 90 degree angle to the sole of the foot
  2. Trim by removing sole thickness on the necessary side and front to back with the end result being a flat weight-bearing surface perpendicular to the axial wall. This ensures that the coffin bone remains as horizontal to the sole as possible. 
  3. Removal of heal surface should be avoided from the medial (inner) claw.
  4. The majority of weight is put on the lateral (outside) claw so a balanced foot helps distribute some of the weight from the lateral to the medial.
  5. Loose horn is bad horn and it must be removed! When your dentist repairs a tooth, they remove everything that is decayed before repair. The theory is the same. The difference being horn will regenerate if properly treated.
  6. Blocking elevates the non-affected claw to relieve pressure on the claw that has been treated for a non-infectious and or infectious lesion. The healing process can take up to six weeks so adhesion and a comfortable non-slip block on the healthy claw is crucial for traction and ample elevation time for the healing process. Use good-quality blocks and proven adhesives such as Vettec’s BoviBond products.
  7. Balance and proper fitting are critical, Ingram says. The block should extend just to the end of the toe, perpendicular to the inside edge of the claw and not past the weight-bearing part of the heel. When the block extends too far past the heel, other cows inevitably step on the exposed portion and pull the block loose.
  8. Extreme temperatures, especially cold, will affect the adhesive, Ingram says. Keep the adhesive and the block as close to room temperature as possible prior to use. Adhesive labels generally recommend a temperature range.

Ingram adds that when blocks fail, the problem often relates back to insufficient time for the adhesive to set. He suggests pressing on the block for at least 30 seconds and keeping the foot elevated for at least 2.5 to three minutes.

Block Sooner, Rather than Later

Aaron LaVoy, a hoof-care specialist and owner of Midwest Hoof Care, says he regularly installs blocks when a cow’s sole is soft or worn through, or if the corium is exposed. He will, though, block cows that just show signs of pain and sensitivity in a claw, to prevent the problem from getting worse.

LaVoy says he prefers not to use blocks with “toe cups,” or to rely on adhesive on the dorsal wall to hold a block in place. If that that adhesive holds a loose block in place, debris can accumulate between the block and the foot, potentially causing pain and injury. He’d rather just replace a block that falls off than have one that is “hinged” in the front.

LaVoy also stresses the importance of the block being lined up with the axial wall and not hanging over where it may come in contact with the lesioned claw. He prefers to apply blocks with roughly a half-inch hanging past the heel, and trimming the excess on the leading edge flush with the front of the claw after the glue has hardened. A 45° bevel can help the cow walk more smoothly, he says, by easing the breakover of each step.

For marginal cases showing early signs of lameness, LaVoy says he has had good success using short-term blocks such as “Walkease” from Shoof International. These foam blocks naturally compress and disappear after around 10 to 14 days. LaVoy’s clients say the temporary blocks seem to help prevent the need for more extensive treatment in cows with mild lameness.

Proper trimming should result in a clean and relatively dry surface, LaVoy says. When prepping the claw, trim to a uniform flat surface for contact with the block and adhesive. He works to keep blocks and adhesives relatively warm during the winter, but avoids using a dryer or heat gun on the animal’s hoof, as too much heat could damage tissue and exacerbate the problem. He recommends cleaning, treating and wrapping any foot lesions first, to avoid disturbing the block during those procedures.

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Belching Cows and Endless Feedlots: Fixing Cattle’s Climate Issues – The New York Times

HAPPY, Texas — Randy Shields looked out at a sea of cattle at the sprawling Wrangler Feedyard — 46,000 animals milling about in the dry Panhandle air as a feed truck swept by on its way to their pens.

Mr. Shields, who manages the yard for Cactus Feeders, knows that at its most basic, the business simply takes something that people can’t eat, and converts it into something they can: beef. That’s possible because cattle have a multichambered stomach where microbes ferment grass and other tough fibrous vegetation, making it digestible.

“The way I look at it, I’ve got 46,000 fermentation vats going out there,” Mr. Shields said.

But this process, called enteric fermentation, also produces methane, a potent planet-warming gas that the cattle mostly belch into the air. And with about 95 million cattle in the United States, including more than 25 million that are fattened for slaughter each year at feedlots, the methane adds up.

Researchers within and outside the industry are working on ways to reduce emissions from fermentation, through feed supplements or dietary changes. Other efforts aim to lower emissions from the animals’ waste — a source of methane as well as another powerful greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide — through improved manure storage and handling.

In the United States, cattle are far from the largest source of greenhouse gases, which include carbon dioxide, methane and others. Their total contribution is dwarfed by the burning of fossil fuels for electricity, transportation and industry. But livestock are among the largest sources of methane, which can have 80 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide although it persists for less time.

Estimates vary, in part because animal emissions are more difficult to quantify than, say, flue gases at a power plant. But enteric fermentation by beef cattle accounts for nearly 2 percent of total emissions in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Pen riders getting ready to mount their horses at the Wrangler Feedyard near Happy, Texas.
Pen riders getting ready to mount their horses at the Wrangler Feedyard near Happy, Texas.
A dust cloud over the Bovina Cattle Company’s feed yard near Bovina, Texas.
Taking a break from cutting corn silage, used to feed cattle.

Unlike fossil-fuel burning, which adds to warming by putting ancient carbon back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide — where it traps the sun’s heat — cattle methane is part of a relatively short cycle. The methane results from eating vegetation that has grown by taking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. After about a decade, the methane breaks down, forming carbon dioxide, which is used for more plant growth.

In effect, the animals are recycling carbon over a short time frame, so if the cattle population remains roughly the same, the contribution to warming remains about the same. “It’s leaving the atmosphere as fast as it’s coming,” said Alan Rotz, a researcher with the Department of Agriculture who has studied emissions from beef production.

The beef industry points out that, rather than remaining the same or increasing, the overall cattle population in the United States has declined by more than 25 percent since peaking in the 1970s, mostly because of efficiency improvements. But cattle populations are growing overseas, as nations become more affluent and beef consumption increases.

“For the U.S., we’re probably not adding methane to the atmosphere” from livestock, Dr. Rotz said. “But you add more methane as you add more animals, as we are doing globally.”

And even in the United States, with overall greenhouse gas emissions that are second only to China, making a dent in cattle emissions would have an effect.

Cargill Corporation, the food and agriculture giant that supplies feed to the beef industry, feedlots and others, is one of many companies doing research on substances that could be added to reduce methane emissions, said Heather Tansey, a director of sustainability at the company.

Cactus Feeders, which moves 1.1 million cattle a year through its 10 feedlots, designates about one-quarter of its pens at the Wrangler lot for studies on topics including the effects of dietary changes and ways to cut emissions from manure.

“There’s a need for work to be done in this area,” said Kenneth Casey, a scientist at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Amarillo, who was measuring the effects of rainfall on nitrous oxide emissions from manure in one of the Wrangler pens last month.

Jim Friemel, owner of the F-Troop Feeders feedlot, sorting cattle.
Trucks fill the feed troughs at the Wrangler Feedyard.
A truck carrying cattle from Jim Friemel’s feedlot, about to head to a slaughterhouse.

In the United States, emissions have been affected by a major dietary change introduced decades ago. Feedlot cattle eat a diet in which corn or other high-energy grains account for up to about half the feed. This, plus reduced movement in the pens, helps the cattle fatten, producing the kind of well-marbled beef that consumers like. Studies have shown that a high-grain diet produces less methane.

But the microbes that break down corn are different from those that work on grass, so cattle have to be monitored carefully for bloat or other health problems. And farming of corn uses a lot of water, adding to concerns about resources.

Railroad cars deliver thousands of tons of a corn byproduct to a Cargill feed plant in Bovina, Texas.

Changes in the beef industry have reduced emissions in another, very basic, way: By spending time at a feedlot rather than grazing, cattle now reach their market weight much faster. They are alive, and belching methane, for a shorter time.

“Our system is exponentially more efficient than it was 40 years ago,” said John Richeson, a professor of agricultural business at West Texas A&M University in Canyon. Efficiency, he added, “directly impacts the carbon footprint.”

Paul Defoor, co-chief executive of Cactus Feeders, said that further reducing greenhouse gas emissions could make good business sense, because less of the carbon in feed would escape as methane and more would be used by the growing animal. “I want to capture all those carbons that I can,” Mr. Defoor said, “in the form of beef.”

The evidence of the industry’s transformation permeates the Texas Panhandle, where the dry conditions, relatively mild winters and not-too-hot summers have made it a center for cattle feeding.

Feedlots are the most obvious sign. Mr. Friemel’s yard, F-Troop Feeders, is one of several dozen in and around Hereford, which calls itself the beef capital of the world. Of Cactus Feeders’ 10 feedlots, seven are in the Panhandle, and the others are not far away in Southwestern Kansas.

There are other indications of the industrial scale of beef production here. Huge grain elevators, which store corn and other feed, dot the landscape, as do the large, windowless slaughterhouses, staffed largely by immigrant workers. Cattle trucks arrive there all day. Plants that make feed for the cattle receive ingredients by the trainload.

Even the corn ethanol industry has set up plants here, far from the Corn Belt, in large part because the waste from the process, called distiller’s grains, is sold by the truckload for cattle feed.

Kenneth Casey, a professor at Texas A&M, tests for greenhouse gas emissions in a pen at the Wrangler facility.
Steamed and flaked corn, at top, is the largest component of the feed at Wrangler Feedyard.
Cutting hail-damaged corn that will be used to feed cattle at Jim Friemel’s feedlot.

The industry’s transformation began with feedlots. The idea of penning cattle so they expend less energy, are easier to care for and can be fed a controlled diet was conceived a century ago. But it was not until the 1960s that the idea really took hold, with large-scale lots.

Before feedlots, beef cattle would graze year-round. But all the energy expended wandering, and the difficulties of winter feeding, when cattle at best could only maintain weight, made the process of fattening them take longer.

“Today when that growing season is over, those cattle can roll into here,” Mr. Defoor said. In about six months at a feedlot like Wrangler, a steer or heifer eats about 35 pounds of food a day (40 percent of which is moisture) and gains more than 3 pounds a day, reaching a typical market weight of more than 1,300 pounds.

Most cattle now graze only for a limited time, beginning as a calf. After about six months they are often sold to what is known as a stocker operation, where they graze on wheat or other grass crops. Typically after another six months or so, as yearlings, they move to a feedlot.

There are still some cattle that are fed on grass from start to finish (although even some meat labeled “grass fed” may have had a different diet toward the end). Because it takes longer, the animals live longer, and every additional day they are alive they are producing more methane.

Grass feeding is not as efficient, Mr. Richeson said. “You don’t get nearly the growth. It takes six months, nine months longer.”

The centerpiece of every feedlot is a mill, where the corn or other grains are steamed and rolled into flakes to improve digestibility. The grain is then mixed with other ingredients and delivered by trucks to troughs in the pens.

Mr. Friemel adds a lot of silage — fodder that is stored while still green — which he gets from nearby fields. One day last month, he was buying corn silage from a farmer whose crop had been damaged by hail. Trucks hauling the sweet-smelling mix of chopped-up stalks, leaves and ears arrived throughout the day. Mr. Friemel, operating a giant tractor, piled it up for storage.

Cactus Feeders uses silage, and adds other ingredients as well. Common ones include distiller’s grains from ethanol plants and a Cargill product called Sweet Bran that is a byproduct of making corn syrup.

At the Cargill plant, rail cars are rotated to unload the corn byproduct, 115 tons at a time.Credit

But the company’s buyers scour the market for other products that the cattle can eat. Depending on price and availability, this can include things like lint residue from ginning cotton, or “yellow grease,” re-rendered oil from restaurant fryers.

“Thank goodness ruminants can use it, because otherwise I don’t know what we’d do with all this stuff,” Mr. Defoor said. In all, he said, even with the reliance on corn, 60 percent of what Cactus feeds to its cattle is inedible by people.

Feedlots also produce a lot of manure and urine — hundreds of thousands of pounds a day of waste at a typical lot like Wrangler. But the arid conditions, and trampling by the animals’ hooves, leaves a smooth, dry surface.

On hot summer days the manure can become too dry and dusty, and coupled with the Panhandle winds results in a “brown cloud” that can greatly affect air quality locally. While most of the methane emissions at a feedlot come directly from the cattle, manure also emits methane as well as nitrous oxide, which is an even more potent greenhouse gas.

Dr. Casey, the Texas A&M researcher, has studied emissions at the Wrangler yard and elsewhere for more than a decade, often collaborating with scientists from the Department of Agriculture.

On this day his equipment was measuring nitrous oxide emissions from the surface of an empty pen whose occupants had been shipped to a slaughterhouse days before. Nitrous oxide emissions spike after it rains, but the gas largely forms in the top inch of the manure, where it is less compact.

“We’re looking at mitigation strategies,” Dr. Casey said. “What could a manager potentially do to reduce emissions?”

His research suggests one possibility — scraping off the top layer of manure if rain is in the forecast. But that might not be feasible across the hundreds of acres of a feedlot. And it may lead to another problem: more methane emissions from the compact layer underneath.

“That’s the issue,” Dr. Casey said. “In trying to control one thing, you’re making the other worse.”

Morning feeding at the F-troop Feeders feedlot in Hereford.Credit

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Cow In Australia Is Freed After Being Trapped On Trampoline – NPR

In Victoria, a few dozen cows escaped their pasture. The farmers got them all except one. A neighbor found the missing cow unable to stand up on her in-ground trampoline.


Good morning. I’m Noel King. In Victoria, Australia, last week, a few dozen cows escaped their pasture. The farmers rounded them all up except one. A neighbor, Kay Laing, found it trapped on her trampoline. The cow was fine. It just couldn’t stand up on the springy surface. So with the help of a tractor, the farmers were able to get the cow onto solid ground, and she walked the mile back home. Maybe we should call her Bouncing Bessie. It’s MORNING EDITION.

Copyright © 2020 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Teenager dies after car collides with cow – Irish Post

A TEENAGER has tragically died after the car he was travelling in collided with a cow. 

Josh Fletch, 18, from Moira in Co Down, passed away in the early hours of Sunday, October 18, after the vehicle he was driving left the road following a collision with the animal. 

The freak incident occurred on the Moira Road in Lisburn at some time around 3am. 

Sergeant Jonny Mackenzie has issued a public appeal for any potential witnesses to come forward. 

“Josh was the driver of a car which left the road after colliding with a cow at around 3am on Sunday morning and sadly died at the scene as a result of his injuries,” he said. 


“We are currently conducting a number of follow-up enquiries into the collision and the road remains closed at this time with diversions in place. 

“Josh was travelling in the direction of Moira, between the junctions with the Bushfield Road and the Moyrusk Road when the collision took place, and I would ask anyone who travelled along this stretch of road in the time leading up to the collision to contact police with any information or dash-cam footage they may have. 

“Please call on 101 quoting reference number 227 18/10/20.” 

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Cow hugging becomes the latest, global wellness trend – Insider – INSIDER

  • Cow hugging or “koe knuffelen” has become the latest wellness craze to help reduce stress and increase positivity.
  • Originating in Reuver, The Netherlands, it has gained popularity across the world, with farms from Switzerland to the United States now offering the therapy to visitors.
  • It promotes positivity and reduces stress through the cow’s warmer body temperature and slower heartbeat. 
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Cow hugging or “koe knuffelen” has become the latest wellness craze to help reduce stress and increase positivity.

Originating in the rural town of Reuver, The Netherlands, cow cuddling is gaining popularity across the world, with farms from Switzerland to the United States now offering the new form of therapy to visitors.

José van Stralen, who runs Farmsurvival in Spanbroek, The Netherlands, started offering cow hugging sessions six years ago after hearing about it from other farmers. 

Speaking to Insider about the cows, he said: “You can read in their body language that when they half close their eyes with their ears down, sometimes even lying their heads down on the person’s lap that they are quite relaxed. 

“It’s a positive energy exchange. The person cuddling the cow becomes relaxed by being next to the cow’s warmer body  and sometimes even manages to follow their heartbeat. It’s a win-win situation and great experience for both.

“People often tell me it meant more to them than they had expected it to. They feel warm, accepted and loved and this exactly how they need to make the cow feel as well.

“Being outdoor in the green fields surrounded by cows under the blue sky, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

The cow’s warmer body temperature and slower heartbeat is believed to promote positivity and reduce stress by boosting oxytocin in humans, the hormone released in social bonding, according to the BBC.

A 2007 study by French and Austrian scientists published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science found that cows “show signs of pleasure and relaxation when people, rub, massage or pet them,” People reported.

It added that the humans who were hugging the cows also experienced lower heart rates and showed physical signs of relaxation, which it said “could be of interest for an improvement in quality of human–cattle interactions.” 

In practice, sessions of hugging, petting, and massaging the cows are meant to last up to three hours depending on the farm but like humans, some cows are more sociable than others and will walk away if they aren’t interested. 

However, Philip Wilson, External Affairs Advisor at World Animal Protection, told Insider: “Although there may be some reported benefits for the cow, the main beneficiary seems to be the person doing the hugging. 

“As an animal welfare organization, we are concerned that people learn and understand the intrinsic nature of animals as living, sentient beings, capable of feeling pain and suffering, as well as a range of positive emotions.

“We are also concerned about any unnecessary stress caused in terms of unwanted contact with people, risks to the animal and person, transportation and housing conditions.

“In terms of therapeutic benefits, we would question whether using companion animals such as dogs and cats would be just as effective and would pose less risk to all parties.”

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Opinion: What Cows Can Teach Us About Zoom Calls – NPR

Enlarge this image


Phil Carrick/Fairfax Media via Getty Images

Phil Carrick/Fairfax Media via Getty Images

In the torrent of news this week, one line especially pierced me: “Interactions may be less positive when they become artificial.”

It comes from researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna and the Johannes Kepler University of Linz, Austria, who compared the vital signs of 28 cows as they were petted while listening to a live human voice, and those same cows being petted while they heard merely a recording. They published their findings in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

“Our study suggests that live talking is more relaxing for our animals than a recording of a human voice,” said Annika Lange, an author on the study. “Heart rate variability was higher when cattle were spoken to directly, indicating they were enjoying themselves…”

And as other studies have confirmed, happy cows produce better milk.

The researchers explain that when cows are in a cheery mood, they stretch out their necks, as if being groomed, and their ears hang low.

I just tried it myself. It is pretty relaxing.

The authors of the study hope that understanding how simple human interaction makes cows happier can improve the way they are treated at the hands of human beings. We should certainly be careful about inferring too much about the value of human interactions on humans from a study of dairy cows in Austria.

But we’re living through times in which much of what we do and experience may seem remote, estranged, and impersonal. How many of us who are fortunate even to have jobs now begin our work days asking, “Hello? Hello? Am I muted? Can you hear me?”

We’re answering emails at all hours, watching videos of strangers dancing for mental refreshment, and getting robo-calls from exuberant recorded voices. “Congratulations! We have a car insurance deal just for you!” We issue commands, confide whims, and ask so-called smart-speakers critical questions like, “Uh, how many calories in a whole bag of tortilla chips? What if they’re unsalted?” “Can you let out sweatpants?” and, “How long will all this last?”

People get the job done, in new and ingenious ways. But many of us may feel that the joy is missing. That joy is in human touch and interaction. Smiles, jokes, and asides. Instead, many of us may feel reduced to small faces in tiny windows on the screen of a Zoom conference, waiting to be recognized and unmuted. “Interactions may be less positive when they become artificial.”

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Meet the dairy firm hoping to power its delivery trucks using cow manure – CNBC

Like many large businesses, dairy company Arla Foods has grand plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and the firm aims to be carbon net zero by 2050.

Around 85% of Arla’s total emissions come from the co-operative of 10,000 farms it has across Europe, a combination of the methane and nitrous oxide from the cows themselves, as well as from the fuel needed for milking and other operations.

It is hoping one of the ways it will get there is by harnessing one of its most readily-available resources: the manure produced by the half a million cows on its U.K. farms alone.

It is in the middle of a three-month trial looking at the viability of turning manure into fuel for its delivery trucks, working with two farms to collect the raw material that would usually be used by farmers as a fertilizer.

The manure, combined with other materials such as food waste, are put into an anaerobic digester that acts like a cow’s stomach, to produce gas, which is then cleaned and liquified into fuel that Arla then uses to power two of its milk trucks. Currently, Arla is running the trial with two of its farms in Buckinghamshire, a county northwest of London, said Graham Wilkinson, the company’s agriculture director.

“We collect it off two farms as part of the trial … but we’ve got 2,500 (U.K. farms) to go in the longer term, so there’s definitely the opportunity to scale up. We’ve got plenty of cow manure,” Wilkinson told CNBC by phone.

The U.K. pilot follows a 2019 trial in Sweden, where Arla’s farms have the potential to produce biofuel that is equivalent to 54 million liters of diesel [source]. That trial showed that running a truck on biofuel is cheaper than using diesel, but the vehicles themselves are more expensive, Wilkinson said. “The ambition would be to go down this (biofuel) route and for it to be more financially viable than diesel. We need to think differently from diesel anyway,” he added.

“For every liter of diesel that … we replace with biofuels, we actually reduce our carbon emissions by (about) two kg … So you’re actually having a sort of double positive (effect) on our emissions,” Wilkinson added.

Peter Cade | The Image Bank | Getty Images

The anaerobic production process also produces a substance called digestate, which farmers can use as a natural fertilizer for crops. Usually, they’d spread slurry and manure directly on to crops, but that is very watery, Wilkinson explained. “(There’s) a tougher consistency within the digestate, which actually (has) more nutrients. So, ultimately, what (the farmers) get back is of a higher value,” he said. Eventually, Wilkinson would like to get to a point where farmers wouldn’t have to use nitrous oxide-rich manufactured fertilizer that currently contributes to carbon emissions.

As well as benefiting the environment and farmers, another long-term aim is to save money, in an industry where the price paid for milk fluctuates. Farmers called for shoppers to boycott U.K. supermarkets over dairy prices in 2015, while Sardinian producers poured sheep’s milk into the streets during a 2019 protest.

“Throughout our whole supply chain we are relentlessly looking at how we do things, and how we can simplify it … the potential with this (biofuel trial) … is it could be another example of where we could actually take cost out and benefit our farmers at the same time,” Wilkinson stated.

Transforming manure into biofuel is not brand new: a renewable natural gas facility that uses manure from 33,000 dairy cows opened in Oregon in December, while Ugandan firm Green Heat International is turning agricultural waste into energy to help power homes in the country.

Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg Getty Images

Big energy

Creating energy from food waste is something that oil company Phillips 66 hopes to be able to do on a huge scale. It is planning to spend around $800 million to turn its San Francisco refinery in Rodeo, California into a renewable fuel plant, which it claims would be the world’s largest.

Phillips 66 announced the plan in August and if it gets approved by authorities, the “Rodeo Renewed” project would produce 680 million gallons of biofuels a year and is likely to begin production in 2024. The raw materials include used soybean and cooking oil and other fats (known as renewable “feedstocks”) and would be delivered to the plant via its existing marine and rail terminals, said Joe Gannon, senior advisor for external communications at Phillips 66, in an email to CNBC.

“Due to the facility being the largest in the world, the feedstocks will be sourced both domestically and internationally and are currently under evaluation to ensure reliable supply and minimization of impact to the environment,” Gannon stated.

Infrastructure is also something Arla is keen to have more of, and Wilkinson wants government backing in building anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities. “We’re relatively confident that from a financial perspective it is a viable option, but if we haven’t got the AD (anaerobic digester) facilities to be able to utilize, then that’s where we need support,” he told CNBC.

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