Canadian cattle are greener than their counterparts in warmer climates, according to a new study that has found cattle emit less methane in the winter than in the summer.
The study was conducted at the University of Manitoba by former master's student, Jenilee Bernier, who grew up on a cattle farm in the north interlake region of Manitoba, and who is now a forage and beef specialist with the provincial government.
The groundbreaking study showed that cattle emit 27 per cent less methane in the winter months, partly due to physiological changes that have evolved to acclimatize cattle to extended periods of time outside during cold, prairie winters.
It also discovered that cows pee less in winter - producing on average 1.3 litres less urine per day than during the fall.
All of which goes some way to vindicating the much vilified cow, which, considering the amount of nutrition it gives us, has taken more than its fair share of heat for everything from greenhouse gas emissions to groundwater contamination.
Whilst our bovine friends (on the Canadian Prairies at least) are basking in their new-found glory, it might be a good time to remind ourselves that the environmental degradation and health scares often associated with the products they give us are more often a result of the people who raise and process them than the poor animals themselves.
Copyright2011, Angela Lovell.