Livestock farming will be part of the solution to the challenge of climate change and not just part of the problem. Family-owned dairy company Straus Family Creamery and seaweed producer Blue Ocean Barns are showing how.
Straus Family Creamery, which aims to be carbon neutral by the end of 2023, took part in the summer of 2021 in the first commercial trial that added red seaweed (Asparagopsis taxiformis) to cattle feed to reduce methane emissions from cows. During the two-month trial, emissions were cut by an average of 52% and sometimes as much as 90%. This meant a reduction of five tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions over seven weeks.
A UC Davis study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Cleaner Production – which the Straus Dairy Farm and Blue Ocean Barns study successfully replicated – already showed greater than 50% methane emissions reduction in dairy cows. Additional studies have demonstrated that the seaweed does not affect cow herd health, milk production, or the taste and chemistry of the milk.
“If we can get up to 90% reduction in methane emissions through feeding red seaweed to cows, this is a huge leap forward for us in creating a sustainable farming system that is beneficial to the planet and our communities,” said Straus founder and CEO Albert Straus. “Red seaweed is also the next critical step we need to reach our carbon-neutral farming model goal in 2023 on the Straus Dairy Farm. This model will demonstrate that dairy farming and animals are one of the essential climate change solutions we need while providing high-quality organic food.”
Straus Family Creamery was founded in 1994 when Albert Straus took over the family dairy farm in Northern California. It has made multiple commitments to sustainability:
- Straus invested in a methane biodigester in 2004 that transforms methane from cows’ manure into electricity that’s used to power the farm (with some sold to the California power grid).
- The methane biodigester has, in partnership with BMW, been upgraded to offer low-carbon charging for electric vehicle customers in California; several farm vehicles are electric.
- The creamery runs on 97% carbon-free electricity.
- Straus practices regenerative agriculture, investing in improving soil health.
- All products are certified organic.
- All milk is sold in reusable glass bottles, with each bottle being reused on average 5 times.
Feed additive supplier Blue Ocean Barns is a public benefit corporation based in Hawaii and San Diego which is sustainably cultivating seaweed in deep seawater.
You can watch Albert Straus of Straus Family Creamery and Joan Salwen of Blue Ocean Barns on video here.