Studies have found that a belching cow produces 120kg of methane gas a year which means that the cows eating their cud and burping are the largest source of greenhouse gas in Ireland.
The farming body, Teagasc's Moorepark in Cork have fitted cows with devices that look like jet packs. Their aim is to find methods of reducing the amount of potent burps emitted.
Matthew Deighton, a scientist on the project, spoke to the Irish Independent, it was a significant challenge for agriculture. Especially as milk production is expected to increase.
He said “It is early days. We have some very interesting results which I think are going to support the efficiency of Irish pastoral milk production but the research is ongoing and it is a complex interaction between the cow and diet…It is a little bit early for a solution in terms of providing a directive to farmers at this point.”
Ireland has committed to lowering greenhouse gas emissions to 20 percent by 2020 but the Department of Agriculture has already ruled out reducing the nations herd.
The methane gas is produced as the cow digests its food. The gas is then burped out silently through their mouth and nostrils.
“The majority of the methane gas is expelled through the mouth and nostrils. It is a four-stomach fermentation of feed, which is then belched and exhaled," said Mr Deighton explained. "Approximately 95pc is expelled in that route."
The study looked at the gas emissions of 50 cows. The devices were attached to their backs and allowed the scientists to examine the concentration of methane in the exhaled gases.
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