Methane-reducing feed additive Bovaer secures UK regulatory approval

By Teodora Lyubomirova

- Last updated on GMT

Getty/Denis Suslov
Getty/Denis Suslov

Related tags Feed Dairy

The feed additive, which can reduce enteric methane emissions from dairy cows by 30% on average, has received market authorization and will be available in England, Wales and Scotland from early 2024.

dsm-firmenich is said to be working closely with the UK dairy sector to introduce the methane-reducing solution to the English, Welsh and Scottish markets after securing an approval from the Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland in December. The products is already authorized for use in 57 countries, including the EU and Northern Ireland.

According to the manufacturer, scope 3 emissions – those that occur in the value chain – from dairy can be slashed by 10-15% carbon equivalents per liter of milk if the feed additive is introduced. This is also the first time that UK regulators approve a feed additive formulated to deliver an environmental benefit.

Bovaer’s market authorization forms part of a wider strategy hatched by the UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (known as Defra) to deliver solutions that can help the livestock industry lower its environmental impact through the use of methane-suppressing feed products. According to the government, ruminant livestock, particularly cows and sheep, are primary drivers of greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture, but ministers say that research has shown that feed products with methane-inhibiting properties can significantly reduce these emissions, particularly in the case of confined cattle.

The UK is also aiming to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with farming minister Mark Spencer stating that ‘it is vital’ for his department and the Devolved Governments to explore ways to assist farmers in further reducing ag emissions.

dsm-firmenich’s Mark van Nieuwland, vice-president, Bovaer, highlighted that the company is building a large-scale production plant in the UK to help support global sales of the feed additive. “Construction on the new plant is well under way in Dalry, Scotland to become operational in the course of 2025,” he added.

‘Seek support’

Agricultural equipment and supplies business Mole Valley Farmers has warned farmers wishing to incorporate Bovaer into their animals’ feed routine to seek assistance. Mole Valley Farmers head of nutrition Dr Chris Bartram called the feed additive ‘an extremely exciting product’ but noted that “it’s important to consider how it’s included and at what rate, and assess how diets can be balanced effectively to lower overall emissions”.

Are farmers onboard?

According to a recently-concluded Defra evidence call​ into methane-supressing feed additives that garnered responses from more than 200 industry stakeholders, the vast majority of farmers surveyed (74%) said they didn’t plan to trial the technology, while just 8% stated the opposite. When it comes to perceptions, 41% of farmers polled stated they had ‘mainly or very negative’ views of methane-suppressing feed additives, versus 25% who had positive views, with another quarter undecided.

More than a quarter (26%) of the producers surveyed also expressed doubts that shoppers would purchase meat or dairy produced by cattle that’s been fed methane-suppressing feed.

However, the responses were collected from a relatively small pool of industry stakeholders and with the technology only starting to enter the marketplace, there could be scope to improve farmer confidence. Defra already plans to incentivize the uptake of such products in England. The department said in a statement: “We will work closely with industry to explore the best approach to introduce incentives, which could…include advice, guidance and support for the development and use of products on farms through our farming schemes…, or a new bespoke scheme.”

Similarly, the Welsh government has committed to reducing GHG emissions by working with the industry to adapt to low-carbon farming tech including methane-supressing products, with the Scottish government also suggesting a ‘significant potential for these product to assist the Scottish agriculture sector in reducing emissions.’  

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