The experts at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen said the average cow contributes as much to global warming as a family car that travels around 1900 km. Prof Harry McArdle, of the institute, said, ''Cattle and agriculture can be a very serious contributor towards the problem.'' Although vehicles produce a far larger volume of noxious gases, methane is 24 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide.
Methane is thought to contribute about 18 per cent towards the global warming effect. The scientists are trying to produce new foodstuffs that result in livestock producing less methane. To inhibit the production of the foul smelling gas, fumaric acid is added to the animals' food, a chemical that traps hydrogen produced by their digestive systems and stops it being turned into methane.
Results of trials in lambs far exceeded expectations, cutting the volume of methane by up to 70 per cent, but cows proved more stubborn, and the scientists were frustrated so far in their attempts to reduce their flatulence, the Daily Telegraph reported.