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Bel rolls out methane-reducing feed for Slovakian dairy farms

Bel Group has begun rolling out Bovaer – a feed additive that reduces livestock methane emissions – across the majority of its dairy producers in Slovakia. The dairy producers in Slovakia supply around 70 million litres of milk annually to make Bel’s Babybel cheese distributed in Central Europe and the UK. The feed additive was created by DSM-Firmenich and Bel says it has the potential to cut methane emissions for each farm by around 25%, representing an overall 400-ton methane reduction annually. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that has a much greater warming effect than CO2. Cows naturally emit the gas during digestion, making them the second largest source of methane from human activities, after fossil fuels. A quarter of a teaspoon of Bovaer added to a dairy cow’s diet daily can suppress some of the chemical reactions that produce the gas in the cows’ stomach, making them emit 25% less methane on average. With the support of its partner farmers, Bel aims to utilise the solution on all 10,000 cows supplying its milk in Slovakia. The company says the methane reduction is the equivalent of taking more than 3,300 family-sized cars off the road. Simon Bonnet, Bel Group’s milk purchasing director, said: “At Bel, we are incredibly proud to be able, together with our partner farmers, to bring innovative solutions and transform the agricultural model to make it more sustainable and responsible. After deploying in Central Europe, we aim to make low-methane milk a reality in other markets as well.” He continued: “We’ve carried out 900 carbon diagnostics at our partner farms, showing that methane emissions represent about half of the greenhouse gas emissions of a dairy farm – the potential for change is enormous”. Mark van Nieuwland, VP Bovaer at DSM-Firmenich, added: “At DSM-Firmenich, our purpose is to bring progress to life, committed to pushing the boundaries of science and technology to make the world we live in more sustainable. Bringing new innovations to market is only possible with the support of pioneering players such as Bel Group. This large-scale deployment of our promising Bovaer solution shows that the future of low-methane milk is here.” After acting to suppress methane production in the cow’s stomach, Bovaer is naturally broken down into elements already present and processed by the cows’ metabolism, without affecting production volumes or milk quality. Once the roll-out in Slovakia is complete, consumers will be able to choose low-methane Babybel products made in Bel’s Slovakian plant with 100% Slovakian milk. These will be sold in Central Europe (Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia) and the UK.

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