DSM to broaden use of methane reducing feed additive in Dutch dairy herd

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Mischa Keijser
© GettyImages/Mischa Keijser

Related tags Dsm Bovaer methane emissions Dairy Sustainability

DSM claims the findings of a large-scale pilot proves its methane-reducing feed additive is ready for roll-out in the Netherlands.

Dutch dairy cooperative, FrieslandCampina and feed company, Agrifirm, partnered with DSM to enable the first large-scale on-farm use of the additive, branded as Bovaer.

The six-month program, which started in the second half of 2022, involved 158 dairy farms and 20,000 cows in the Netherlands.

The collaboration led to a decrease of 10,000 tons of CO2e in methane emissions, reported the partners.

No impact on cow health, milk production or composition 

“The trial confirmed that Bovaer can easily be introduced at scale without affecting animal health, milk production or milk composition. This work supports the quicker adoption of Bovaer by the dairy sector, reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and helping the Netherlands to reach its climate targets,” said DSM.

Starting this year, farmers in the Netherlands that are using Bovaer in their feed can be recognized for their efforts through the KringloopWijzer program, the carbon footprint tool of the Dutch dairy sector.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with FrieslandCampina and Agrifirm to ensure Bovaer reaches more cows and makes an even greater contribution to tackling agricultural methane emissions," commented Mark van Nieuwland, VP Bovaer, DSM.

Tipping point 

Lars van den Nieuwenhof owns a farm with 125 dairy cows with his parents in Someren, North Brabant. He participated in FrieslandCampina's pilot to reduce GHG emissions on his farm using the DSM product.

"As an industry, we are at a tipping point. We have to move along and try to reduce methane emissions. We were, therefore, eager to participate in this pilot. Moreover, participation is low-threshold, and it requires little effort. Bovaer is mixed into the minerals we feed to the cows. We also participated in workshops to exchange experiences with other participants. I am satisfied with the results. The cows are producing well, are healthy, vital, and fertile. We will continue to use the feed additive.”

Jelle Heida, who has a dairy farm with 400 cows in Hoornsterzwaag, Friesland, also shared insights following the farm's participation in the trial: 

"I participated in the Bovaer pilot because I was curious whether the feed additive would affect the fermentation process. I did not notice any effect as we added Bovaer to the ration. We also did not observe any changes in the health of our cows or in their milk production and composition.”

FrieslandCampina and its members are aiming to achieve a 33% reduction in GHG emissions on farms by 2030. The organization is relying on a number of approaches to do so, from generating sustainable energy on farms to using ‘guaranteed deforestation-free soy’ in feed, as well as trying to reduce cow methane emissions.

“It requires continuous improvement and innovation to reach our targets," noted Sanne Griffioen, director, farm sustainability at the dairy cooperative. 

Product manufacturing 

In November last year, DSM announced that construction had begun on a manufacturing facility for Bovaer at its site in Dalry, Scotland. The plant will significantly increase global production of the feed additive, said the developer.

It has initial product volumes available for near term market development, with the additive in the early commercialization phase in many markets globally.

Bovaer can achieve an average enteric methane reduction of 30% in dairy cows, and 45% in beef cattle, according to trial findings. The development of the product took over 10 years and is backed by 45 on-farm trials in 13 countries across four continents, and more than 48 peer-reviewed studies published in independent scientific journals, within that period. 

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