Research and Development

There has been considerable research completed on the use of Asparagopsis by sheep, beef and dairy cattle producers to reduce methane.  Results to date have generally exceeded expectations.

Links to research material are provided below for further reading or reference:

  • Trial results
    • CSIRO, MLA & JCU
      • Asparagopsis feedlot feeding trial ​It’s a global initiative to decrease methane emissions and increase productivity of cattle to benefit the environment, food production, and profitability of beef production. The seaweed Asparagopsis taxiformis was evaluated for its capability to reduce methane emissions and improve productivity in Brangus steers. It was included in the feedlot ration at 0.05%, 0.10%, and 0.20% of organic matter. Emissions were monitored in respiration chambers fortnightly during 90 days treatment. Daily feed intake was measured and steers weighed weekly. Steers receiving Asparagopsis demonstrated reduced methane up to 98%. There was no change in feed intake, however with inclusion of 0.10%, and 0.20% there was indication of weight gain improvement of 53% and 42%, respectively, which requires to be demonstrated and confirmed in a commercial environment. Hot carcass weight and dressing percentage were not different. Asparagopsis had no effect on meat eating quality. The bioactive bromoform was not detectable in tissues of treated steers, given a two day withdrawal period. Response is expected to change with feed base, thus investigation is required to identify appropriate inclusion levels in variable feed formulations. If the feeding of Asparagopsis ultimately proves feasible, the beef industry will benefit with improved image, environmental footprint, and profitability. https://www.mla.com.au/research-and-development/search-rd-reports/final-report-details/BFLT0394-Asparagopsis-feedlot-feeding-trial/4408
      • Mitigating the carbon footprint and improving productivity of ruminant livestock agriculture using a red seaweed Ruminants are responsible for a large proportion of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in the form of methane. This can be managed. It is a global initiative to increase productivity of the livestock sector to meet a growing population, but with emphasis on decreasing enteric methane to achieve emissions targets. We investigated the marine red macroalga (seaweed) Asparagopsis taxiformis as a feed ingredient to fundamentally eliminate enteric methane in beef cattle fed a high grain diet and provide evidence of improved livestock production performance. Asparagopsis was included in the feed of Brahman-Angus cross steers at 0.00%, 0.05%, 0.10%, and 0.20% of feed organic matter. Emissions were monitored in respiration chambers fortnightly over 90 d of treatment, steers were weighed weekly prior to feeding, feed intake monitored daily, rumen fluid samples collected in conjunction with respiration chambers for assessment of rumen function, feces were collected for bromoform residue analysis, and meat, organ, and fat were collected post slaughter for residue analysis and sensory evaluation. Steers receiving 0.10% and 0.20% Asparagopsis demonstrated decreased methane up to 40% and 98%, and demonstrated weight gain improvements of 53% and 42%, respectively. There was no negative effect on daily feed intake, feed conversion efficiencies, or rumen function, and no residues or changes in meat eating quality were detected. Commercial production of Asparagopsis could create new economies, and with low inclusion rates of this seaweed in ruminant diets the industry has the potential to revolutionize management of greenhouse gas emissions across the ruminant livestock sector with complementary benefits to the environment, and economy of the wider agriculture sector. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652620308830
      • Validating the antimethanogenic properties of red macro algae for provisiosinal patent In Australia, agriculture is regarded as one of the major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 16% of total emissions from all sectors. Enteric fermentation from ruminant livestock contributes a large proportion of these emissions as methane.Diet manipulation is generally regarded as an effective approach in which the ruminant livestock sector could reduce enteric contributions to Australia’s GHG emissions. A number of feed additives have previously been described with potential to reduce enteric methane production, but few are persistent over time and most have a negative impact on intake and/or digestibility when fed in quantities that result in a mitigation response. The use of macroalgae as a feed additive to support animal productivity and thereby reduce emission intensity has been investigated. The inclusion of algae biomass in vitro has been described and forms the basis of an international patent for the use of a red macroalga to reduce enteric methanogenesis in ruminants with International Publication Number WO 2015/109362 A2. This project has now determined the effect of supplementing a pelleted grain diet with a marine red macroalga on enteric methane production and rumen function. The overall objective was to provide a sufficient data set to support claims based on previous in vitro trials and a short term in vivo trial using Brahman steers. The effectiveness of accumulated bioactives in Asparagopsis biomass on reducing rumen methanogenesis was assessed across five inclusion rates compared to a control (no alga) using sheep as the experimental animal. The potential of including Asparagopsis taxiformis in the diet to mitigate methane production has now been described and clearly demonstrates the antimethanogenic potential of naturally occurring algal bioactives in vivo. Twenty four merino cross wethers were allocated to one of five groups based on the daily inclusion rate of Asparagopsis [0 (control), 0.5, 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 % on an organic matter basis]; equivalent to 0, 13, 26, 58 and 80 g/d algae as fed, respectively. Individual feed intake was measured over 75 d, rumen fluid and blood samples were collected to determine the effect of Asparagopsis on rumen fermentation and animal health, respectively. Individual animal methane production was measured on three occasions using open-circuit respiration chambers. https://www.mla.com.au/research-and-development/search-rd-reports/final-report-details/Environment-On-Farm/Validating-the-antimethanogenic-properties-of-red-macro-algae-for-provisional-patent/3249
      • Greenhouse gas mitigation potential of the Australian red meat production and processing sectors The purpose of this project was to investigate if the Australian red meat industry could become carbon neutral by 2030 (CN30), and if so, how. This involved firstly establishing a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions baseline year (2005) encompassing farm, feedlot and processing sectors. Following this, the most promising practices to reduce and offset GHG emissions were identified and a series of research, development and adoption (RD&A) pathways proposed.The study was instigated by MLA in recognition that customers, investors, federal and state governments have carbon reduction policies in place. This report has identified that it is possible to become carbon neutral and MLA will develop business models to unlock productivity for industry. https://www.mla.com.au/research-and-development/search-rd-reports/final-report-details/Greenhouse-gas-mitigation-potential-of-the-Australian-red-meat-production-and-processing-sectors/3726
      • Asparagopsis taxiformis decreases enteric methane production in sheep Asparagopsis taxiformis concentrates halogenated compounds that are known to inhibit cobamide-dependent methanogenesis in vitro and, therefore, has potential to mitigate enteric methane production. The present study investigated the effect of Asparagopsis on methane (CH4) production from sheep offered a high-fibre pelleted diet (offered at 1.2 × maintenance) at five inclusion levels of Asparagopsis for 72 days (0% (control), 0.5%, 1%, 2% and 3% organic matter basis as offered). Individual animal CH4 measurements were conducted at 21-day intervals using open-circuit respiration chambers. Asparagopsis inclusion resulted in a consistent and dose-dependent reduction in enteric CH4 production over time, with up to 80% CH4 mitigation at the 3% offered rate compared with the group fed no Asparagopsis (P < 0.05). Sheep fed Asparagopsis had a significantly lower concentration of total volatile fatty acids and acetate, but a higher propionate concentration. No changes in liveweight gain were identified. Supplementing Asparagopsis in a high-fibre diet (<2% organic matter) resulted in significant and persistent decreases in enteric methanogenesis over a 72-day period. Granulomatous and keratotic ruminal mucosa changes were identified in several sheep with Asparagopsis supplementation. While the outcomes of the present study may be extrapolated to feedlot to achieve the antimethanogenic effect associated with Asparagopsis, further work is required to define the long-term effects on productivity and animal health. https://www.publish.csiro.au/an/an15883
    • UC Davis
      • Inclusion of Asparagopsis armata in lactating dairy cows’ diet reduces enteric methane emission by over 50 percent Livestock production, particularly enteric methane production, contributes to greenhouse gas emissions globally. Various mitigation strategies developed to reduce enteric emissions have limited success. Although in vitro studies have shown a considerable reduction in methane emissions using Asparagopsis spp., no studies have been conducted to investigate the effect of any species of Asparagopsis in dairy cattle. Our objective was to evaluate quantitatively the response of cows consuming Asparagopsis armata on methane production (g/kg), yield (g/kg feed intake) and intensity (g/kg milk yield). Twelve post-peak lactating Holstein cows were randomly assigned to three treatments (control, 0.5% and 1% inclusion levels of A. armata on organic matter basis) in a 3 × 3 Latin square design with three 21-day periods. Enteric methane emissions were measured using the GreenFeed system. Methane production by cows decreased significantly by 26.4% at the low (0.5%) level of A. armata inclusion and 67.2% at the high (1%) level of inclusion. Feed intake was reduced by 10.8 and 38.0%, in cows fed the low and high level of macroalgae inclusion, respectively. Methane yield decreased significantly by 20.3 and 42.7% in cows fed diet including 0.5% and 1% A. armata inclusion levels, respectively (P = <0.0001). Methane intensity significantly decreased by 26.8% from cows fed at 0.5% level and 60% at the 1.0% A. armata inclusion level. Bromoform concentrations in milk were not significantly different between treatments. Our in vivo results showed that A. armata has potential to be used as a feed additive to reduce enteric methane emissions. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652619321559
      • Expert sees dramatic reduction when cows consume seaweed supplement Adding seaweed to cattle feed may significantly reduce methane emissions from dairy cows. Method could help dairy farmers meet new state methane-emissions standards. The UC Davis project is first in the world to test seaweed on live dairy cattle. https://climatechange.ucdavis.edu/news/can-seaweed-cut-methane-emissions-on-dairy-farms/
    • Summary of trial data
      • There have been several recent trials assessing the capacity of the seaweed to reduce methane in beef and dairy cattle. The chart below illustrates the results to date across beef and dairy trials.

Asparagopsis methane reduction observations

  • Ongoing Research and Development
    • The team at FutureFeed are investing in further research and development which will optimise the production and delivery of the product to industry.
    • Updates will be added TO the website as new information becomes available
  • Carbon methodology framework
    • CSIRO and FutureFeed are involved with a team at the Australian Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources who are developing a framework which will provide the pathway for new methodologies to be developed for the Emissions Reduction Fund