Ethanol Blog

Dairy Cow Carbon Hoofprint Smaller Than Believed

Cheryl Anderson
By  Cheryl Anderson , DTN Staff Reporter

Dairy cows may not be leaving as large of a carbon hoofprint than originally thought, according to an article by (…).

Researchers from Cornell University said during a recent food policy symposium that cows are often fed co-products from biofuel production such as distillers grains, or byproducts from human food that are costly and environmentally degrading to dispose of.

Michael Van Amburgh, professor of animal science, cited a study that found carbon dioxide and methane emission from co- and by-products included in livestock feed are much lower being fed to dairy cattle than when they are incinerated.

One example is that cows annually consume about four billion pounds of shelled almond hulls generated by California almond industry.

The inclusion of distillers grains and byproducts of food production (such as citrus pulp, almond and soybean hulls, cottonseed and even baked goods and candy) is environmentally beneficial, but boosts nutrients, enhances milk yields, and provides an economic opportunity for many of these co- and by-products to reduce the cost of food to the consumer.

Van Amburgh said that every food has an environmental impact, so the amount of nutrients received in return for the greenhouse gas emission generated must be considered.

Cheryl Anderson can be reached at


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