Positive data seen for Volta Greentech's methane emissions targeted seaweed product in beef cattle study

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

Cows on pilot farm in Näshulta, Sweden © Volta Greentech
Cows on pilot farm in Näshulta, Sweden © Volta Greentech

Related tags: freeze-dried, seaweed, Volta Greentech, methane emissions, beef cows

Swedish startup, Volta Greentech, which is developing a supplement derived from the red algae, Asparagopsis, to reduce methane emissions in cattle, reports a research milestone.

A pilot it ran on a commercial farm in Sweden indicated that the feed supplement reduced over 80% of methane (CH4) emissions from beef cows.

Fredrik Åkerman, cofounder and CEO of the Swedish company, said the findings show the company’s seaweed feed supplement has the potential to reduce methane emissions in beef cattle. “The market potential and the impact we can achieve with this solution is huge.”

In terms of how the product is produced, the company outlined how Asparagopsis​ is grown in its pilot, land-based system in the coastal city of Lysekil, Sweden. 

pilot factory
Startup's pilot facility at Lysekil in Sweden © Volta Greentech

The seaweed is harvested from tanks, freeze-dried and milled into a fine powder that constitutes the final product, branded as Volta Seafeed.

The trial

The supplement was introduced into the diet of cattle at the commercial pilot farm ‘Tre Bönder’ in Näshulta, Sweden, a family-owned company producing beef.

The total herd size equaled 200 animals, with about 10% of those given Volta Seafeed, as part of the pilot study. The supplement was mixed into those cows' regular feed twice per day, at 7am and 2pm.

The measurement technology used in the project was the GreenFeed system from C-lock Inc.  

The average methane reduction observed was 81% when Volta Seafeed was added at an inclusion rate of 0.6% of feed dry matter, said Volta Greentech.

Production parameters

The key objective of the project was to determine the effect of the supplemented feed on (CH4) production (g/day) and yield (g CH4/kg DMI).

The impact of the supplemented feed on dry matter intake (DMI) and average daily gain (ADG) in the cattle was not recorded as part of the study, Åkerman told FeedNavigator.

“Subjective and unscientific [reporting] from the farmer indicates that the animals ate slightly less feed but grew just as well [as cows that were not fed the supplement],” ​he added.

Research to date

Several animal trials have been conducted over the past five years to determine the effect of Asparagopsis​ as a feed supplement for cattle to reduce methane emissions. The company cited several such studies including Roque et al. (2019) Kinley et al. (2020), Roque et al. (2021) and Stefenoni et al. (2021) that, it said, shore up the idea that Asparagopsis i​s efficient in terms of methane reduction when added at low inclusion rates to the diet of beef cattle and dairy cows.

“Roque et al. (2021​) shows that the use of Asparagopsis taxiformis as a feed supplement to beef cattle diets reduces methane emissions from enteric fermentation for the study duration of 21 weeks without any loss in efficacy.”

Åkerman said that further pilots will be run this year on Volta Seafeed, to assess the product at different farms and for different durations, to determine the short-term and long-term reduction that can be achieved for different types of cattle and different feeding regimes. 

Meanwhile, work continues, he said, on enlarging the manufacturing footprint for the supplement. 

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