Transcript of feeding fats and oils

​This seven and a half minute video was produced to communicate the outcomes of the Climate Change Research Program through the Reducing Emissions from Livestock Program. It provides information to help land managers understand how they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change by feeding dietary supplements to dairy cattle.  This research has been funded by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to help prepare Australia’s primary industries for climate change and build the resilience of Australia’s agricultural sector.

Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry
Transcript - Feeding Fats and Oils (Final) – Oils ain’t Oils

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Livestock Emissions: Oils ain't oils [7:21]

13 June 2012

Transcript

  1. Voice over:
    Victorian dairy producers are trialling natural food additives to improve dairy conditions and reduce their carbon footprint.

    New research conducted in Victoria indicates that adding fat supplements to cattle feed could reduce methane emissions by 15 to 20 per cent.

    With each grazing dairy cow burping up to 600 grams of methane per day, researchers, extension officers and farmers are working on ways to reduce these emissions without compromising animal production and costs.

    Associate Professor Richard Eckard, Director, Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre:
    The Australian livestock industry has been quite good at improving their efficiency over time and we can see that through a range of breeding, feeding and animal management practices the emissions intensity of livestock production has actually decreased steadily over the last forty years. In particularly the dairy industry can show some quite large gains in the amount of milk produced per litre of methane produced. What we’ve now got to do is turn that around and look for ways to reduce the net amount of methane coming from the industry as well.

    Voice over:
    Dr Richard Eckard is director of the Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre at the University of Melbourne. He heads this project as part of the Reducing Emissions from Livestock Research Program which receives funding through the Australian Government’s Climate Change Research Program.

    Associate Professor Richard Eckard, Director, Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre:
    The aim of the research here was to look at practical ways to reduce methane from dairy cattle, in this case. Dairy cattle have the advantage of being fed in the dairy nearly everyday, and so there’s practical options to add something to their diet that will reduce methane.

    In the case of the experiment here, we looked at a range of different feed supplements including dietary oils. There was some evidence that dietary oils can reduce methane and we tried a range of different oil seeds, oil sources - whole cottonseed oil, cold pressed canola, hominy meal, a range of oils and we found a consistent reduction in methane from these, if fed on a daily basis. And so for every one per cent extra oil we add to the diet of the animal we get about a three and a half per cent reduction in methane.  And that's something tangible that farmers can do right now practically and can respond to an initiative like the Carbon Farming Initiative by feeding these oils if they are cost-effective.

    Dr Richard Williams, Research Scientist, Dairy Nutrition, Department of Primary Industries, Ellinbank Victoria:
    One of the examples of the byproducts that we fed is cold pressed canola. This is a byproduct of the production of bio diesel. It has had some of the fat taken out but there is still ten per cent fat in this product as it is. We can substitute this into the diet of dairy cows while they are being fed during milking to lift the fat in their diet and reduce their methane.

  2. Voice over:
    Dr Eckard says while adding fats and oils to cattle feed appears to be a promising way to reduce emissions and increase production, it’s most valuable when pasture is scarce and low in nutritional value.

    Associate Professor Richard Eckard, Director, Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre:
    Obviously during the spring period the pasture has a high nutritional value and has a higher, natural oil content so there’s not much more we can add during the spring period.  But during the summer in most of Victoria the natural oil content is down around one per cent, one and a half per cent, so there’s a window to add a significant amount of oil during summer and reduce methane during that period.  And that also brings energy into the diet, improving milk production at a time when you need additional energy.

    Dr Richard Williams, Research Scientist, Dairy Nutrition, Department of Primary Industries, Ellinbank Victoria:
    Here at DPI Ellinbank we have two ways to measure the methane emissions of cows. Behind me are our calorimeters – they have two chambers, each chamber holds one cow. Air is drawn out of those chambers at about 1800 litres a minute and we send it off to sampling in our analyser.

    An alternative to our chamber technique is something called the SF6 technique. This involves putting a harness on each individual cow. Breath is sampled at a point just above her nose drawn up into a stainless steel canister. Then this canister is taken across to the gas chromatograph for analysis.

  3. Voice over:
    Dairy farmer Graeme Nicoll runs Montrose Dairy a pasture-based dairy farm at Fish Creek in south Gippsland. His cows produce around 2 million litres of milk each year.

    Mr Graeme Nicoll, Diary Farmer, ‘Montrose Dairy’ South Gippsland Victoria:
    We milk around 280 cows in a pasture-based system where we have a strong focus on pasture utilisation.

  4. Voice over:
    Graeme is a 2009 Nuffield scholar and is committed to a vibrant future for dairy farmers and dairying regions.  He’s travelled overseas to look explore ways to evolve his dairy farm at Montrose.

    Mr Graeme Nicoll, Diary Farmer, ‘Montrose Dairy’ South Gippsland Victoria:
    We've been feeding fats and oils in our dairy for probably five or six years and we started doing it to reduce the dust in the dairy. We use recycled vegetable oil or used vegetable oil that we add into the grain after the grain is crushed, that goes into our feed mix that cows are fed in the dairy. It's applied just a drip into the auger and mixed in an auger as it goes up to the feed system. So, it’s just an automated system that runs when the feed system is running.

  5. Voice over:
    He said although he is interested in the research, he wouldn’t necessarily add fats to a cows’ diet simply to reduce methane.

    Mr Graeme Nicoll, Diary Farmer, ‘Montrose Dairy’ South Gippsland Victoria:
    When we first started using oil in the dairy we were aware there was some talk of methane reduction back then and that's an added bonus I guess of using it, but it's not the primary reason why we are using it.

    So we buy the oil in thousand litre lots. It’s costing us around $1000, so a dollar a litre at the moment. It has increased in price a bit over the last few years, just with food prices going up I think, and it's probably not an economic thing to do as an energy source at the moment. It has been at sometimes in the past for us, so it's something we do for other reasons and so we get an economic benefit out of having happy staff in the dairy.

    I think there are huge opportunities in the dairy industry to feed fats and oils to reduce greenhouse gas emissions unlike more expansive grazing industries, we’ve got our cows in the dairy twice a day, so it’s easy to add those additives to their diet.

    But what we really need is an economic driver to help us change to feeding oils in the dairy. At the moment the only benefit is a benefit of reduced dust in the dairy to us, on the financial front so if there's economic benefit to do it change will be adopted a lot quicker.

    Associate Professor Richard Eckard, Director, Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre:
    The real important thing is to take the research from where we are at and to have it practically applied on farm. We do that through a number of different mechanisms. One, we work with farmers, through our extension services within the Department of Primary Industries to communicate the benefits and the message of feeding dietary oils both reducing methane and productivity. We are also working through to the development of carbon offset methods.  These are methods that would describe a protocol by which farmers can follow to feed oils, reduce methane, and get a credit from the Government through the Carbon Farming Initiative.

  6. Voice over:
    This study forms part of a larger program to develop a suite of strategies livestock producers in South Eastern Australia can use, to reduce methane emissions.

    This research has been funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to help prepare Australia’s primary industries for climate change and build the resilience of Australia’s agricultural sector.