Ben & Jerry’s wants its cows to stop belching and releasing other gases in order to save the environment.
The Vermont-based ice cream maker said that it plans on changing the bovine diet on 15 of its farms in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Since dairy ingredients are responsible for more than 50% of our greenhouse emissions, this is a big deal,” the company said in a statement on its web site.
According to Ben & Jerry’s, cow burps are responsible for “releasing a tremendous amount of methane” into the atmosphere, thus accelerating climate change.
The company wants to suppress the burps by feeding the animals a “cow-tested, cow-approved meal plan” which “includes a high-quality forage diet and innovative feed additives that reduce the generation of methane as cows digest their food.”
Ben & Jerry’s also wants to reduce emissions by applying “methane reduction technology” to the approximately 80 pounds of manure that cows produce on a daily basis.
“Cows also poop…A LOT,” according to the ice cream maker.
The firm wants to deploy manure digesters and separators which it says “can be used to produce both renewable electricity and animal bedding.”
Ben & Jerry’s also plans on feeding the cows red seaweed and fewer synthetics as well as increasing the amount of grass in their diet to reduce flatulence.
The company announced its plan — codenamed “Project Mootopia” — to work in concert with Blue Ocean Barns, a firm that produces a seaweed supplement called Brominata.
According to studies, adding just three ounces of seaweed to a cow’s daily diet can reduce methane emissions by 82%.
Climate change experts said that the agriculture industry is responsible for some 10% of greenhouse gas emissions in the US.
Half of that is estimated to come from cows and other ruminant animals that emit methane through belching and flatulence throughout the day due to their steady diet of grass, hay, and other forages.
Ben & Jerry’s is currently using Brominata on cows at a Vermont dairy farm that provides milk for its ice cream products.
“Project Mootopia” is a pilot program that will be encompassing 15 dairy farms in the US and the Netherlands that supply milk to Ben & Jerry’s.
The company plans to announce the results of their findings.
“We’re working really collaboratively with the farms to try to see what works because we don’t know what will stick or what will make sense financially,” Jenna Evans, Ben & Jerry’s global sustainability manager, told Fast Company.