Reducing methane emissions from ruminant animals


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About the project Edit

Mootral (a combination of Moo" and carbo-neu"Tral") is the name given to a programme by a small UK startup to reduce methane emissions from ruminant animals, chiefly cows and sheep, but also goats. It is a feed additive, derived from garlic which cuts the methane produced by cows, sheep and other ruminants by at least 5%, and up to 25% with optimum dosage. Methane from ruminants is estimated to be responsible for 20% of global warming.

The extract is a natural antibiotic that limits the growth of bacteria in the ruminant’s stomach. The key ingredient is allicin, a compound derived from garlic, which reduced methane production by 94 per cent in a laboratory trial simulating ruminants’ digestive processes. Animal trials have succeeded in cutting methane emissions by 15%, and they are continuing to work out the optimum dosage and frequency.

Mootral has attracted much recent attention as runner-up in the FT Global Climate Challenge and Dutch Postcode Lottery. Mootral is a finalist in the Shell/BBC/Newsweek World Challenge 2009 as one of the 12 most promising solutions to climate change.

In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

Welsh Neem Biotech, which is already producing the additive on a commercial scale for Carbon Mootral CIC (Community Interest Company), points out that the feed additives can get to work straight away. Whereas many carbon-offsetting initiatives are long-term, Mootral can reduce methane emissions with immediate effect. Chief exceutive of Tesco said about Mootral that it is a novel idea with the potential to have a real impact in reducing carbon emissions from the food chain.

What is the social value of this project? Edit

Mootral estimates that it can reduce cow emissions enough to generate GBP 30 per cow of carbon credit per year; all together, that would amount to a carbon credit market potential of more than GBP 30 billion per year, it says.

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

The product also has potential for implementation on a global scale. Estonia is already implementing an emissions tax for farmers ‘per ruminant capita’, with Denmark and Ireland still chewing the idea over. Meat production is huge in terms of business interests and livelihoods. This is a way to cut down on emissions without taxing beef. The airline industry could also assist in the roll-out of the project. By encouraging their passengers to purchase carbon-offsetting credits, they could finance the distribution of the additive to farms beneath their flight path, and gain ‘Mootral’ status.

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit


What is the business model of this project? Edit

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