The company's scientists have found a way to enhance Mootral's Enterix (formerly Mootral Ruminant) through new patented technology.
Enterix Advanced uses iodoform, known for its methane inhibiting properties, by synergising it with specific compounds from garlic. This approach builds on Mootral's original technology, which is already in use on commercial farms in the UK. The key lies in the strong synergy between these compounds, allowing significant emission reductions without affecting dry matter intake and milk yield, a potential problem previously associated with high doses of iodoform, said the developer.
"Iodoform has the same mode of action as bromoform, the active ingredient in some types of seaweed.
"We have spent the last two years working on synergies between halogenated compounds and various other botanicals. And we found that iodoform still synergises best with certain compounds from garlic.
"There are studies with iodoform that show its methane inhibiting abilities, but we don't need anywhere near the amount of the compound [referenced in those studies] to make our product work because of our synergistic combination," Thomas Hafner, founder and CEO of Mootral, told us in a phone call.
The company has found that iodoform has none of the drawbacks of bromoform. "It's not ozone-depleting, it's not carcinogenic, and it's already approved for certain topical applications in human and animal health. So there is a lot of safety data already [published] around iodoform," the CEO reported.
Asked whether the existing approvals and safety data would help speed up the regulatory pathway for Mootral's technology, Hafner responded: "It will certainly help us, and more than anything else, it will help with user and consumer acceptance of the compound."
Grazing cattle breakthrough
Enterix Advanced also allows for a controlled-release formulation necessary for bolus administration in grazing cattle, which the founder said enhances the potential of this patented technology for methane mitigation in animal agriculture worldwide.
"We are using this as an opportunity to move away from garlic powder and instead focus on a specific garlic oil that has the chemistry that synergises so well with our iodoform compound, and this allows us to have a very compact product, on the milligram scale, which means it also fits into a bolus, allowing it to be used in grazing cattle."
Boluses are a well-known way of delivering an active compound to grazing cattle over a period of time.
Mootral's R&D team has completed the in vitro development and testing phase. In vivo trials will take place in 2024, with the aim of obtaining regulatory approvals from the end of 2026.
"We are moving from a comprehensive in vitro trial phase to work in vivo.
"The focus now is on evaluating the level of methane reduction in different environments, along with proving safety, of course," explained Hafner.
The hope is to achieve methane reductions of between 40% and 60%, depending on the feed used.
Trials are planned in New Zealand, central Europe, the UK, Latin American markets, and the US. Certain countries require prior approval for trials using iodoform, but the CEO said the expectation is to have a wide range of trial settings involving different types of cows. "We're going all out on this."
Indeed, Mootral is looking to scale this up to as many as 300 million cows within the next decade. And the price point for the Enterix technology will be in line with the original Mootral Ruminant product, the CEO added.
"We are very excited about this product because it is safe, scalable, affordable and effective."