Methane-busting bolus for grass-fed cows may reduce emissions by at least 70%

The technology, which involves placing a bolus into cow’s rumen and releasing a substance that counteracts the formation of methane, has received backing by the government in the form of a NZ$7.8m grant. Private investors as well as we organizations including the Akina Foundation, Agmart and the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Center have also funded the project.

A bolus is a large capsule filled with a substance or medicine; it is typically inserted into the animal via injection or feed. New Zealand dairy farming is largely pasture-based, making the use of feed additives for methane mitigation impractical.

Ruminant BioTech chief executive George Reeves said the bolus has the potential to provide every dairy, sheep, and beef farmer in New Zealand with a set-and-forget methane reduction solution that is both effective and practical for grass-fed animal farming operations.

“Our slow-release bolus delivers a methane inhibitor at the site of methane production, in the rumen,”he noted. Preliminary trials achieved 90% methane emissions reduction over 80 days. While these initial results were extremely positive, our goal is to develop a bolus that achieves 70% methane mitigation over six months.”

Questions over safety, dosage linger but ‘no cause for concern’ so far

This methane-inhibiting bolus is slated to be commercially available during 2025, granted it receives authorization for use as an animal medicine. To gather the required information, Ruminant BioTech will carry out a series of studies over the next 18 months.

One area where the company will need to demonstrate compliance is the safety of the methane suppressor. Ruminant BioTech’s bolus is filled with tribromomethane, more commonly known as bromoform. The substance is also present in seaweed, which has been used in feed to reduce methane emissions from livestock.

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