It’s great on pizzas, salads, garlic bread and beef, but did you know that oregano is also good inside of beef … especially when it’s still on the hoof? Researchers are testing a new theory that feeding oregano to cattle can reduce the amount of methane in their burps by as much as 25%. When you consider that there are about 1.5 billion cows and bulls worldwide, each emitting between 70 and 120 kg of methane per year, it’s probably worth figuring out ways to get them to eat hay pizzas.
Researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark have begun a four-year study to determine if adding oregano to cattle feed will reduce methane emissions in burps and by how much. Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare hirtum) is known for its antimicrobial properties but it’s not known how it can be introduced to a cow’s rumen - the internal chamber where microbes ferment feed and create methane.
The project will test the effectiveness of oregano added to hay or grass by placing dairy cows in special methane-measuring chambers. The cows will be monitored for their reactions to different types of oregano and differing amounts in their feed.
In addition to reducing methane emissions, the oregano solution, if effective, will appeal to both farmers and consumers looking for organic growing methods and foods. The researchers will test the effects of the oregano on the taste of the cattle’s milk, cheese and meat products. Testing has already shown that oregano positively affects the fatty acid composition of milk. The benefits of oregano are good for everyone, says project manager Kai Grevsen.
We know that the market for dairy products is characterized by an increasing willingness to pay more for milk with special qualities or values, especially organic, and we hope that in the project we will have a good and balanced dialogue with consumers about the climate and cattle production.
If you’re not ready to give up beef to reduce methane in the Earth’s atmosphere, are you willing to eat hamburgers with a hint of oregano?