Three businesses active in the Dutch agriculture sector have said that their partnership has seen success with a new methane-reducing feed additive for cattle.

Dairy company Royal FrieslandCampina, health and nutrition company DSM, and agricultural co-operative Agrifirm have incorporated the additive, called Bovaer, into the regular farming activities of 158 dairy farms in the Netherlands, accounting for some 20,000 farms.

The experiment with the additive, which began last year, has found that it can be introduced at scale without affecting animal welfare, milk production or milk composition.

The organisers of the project say that participating farmers have seen a decrease in methane equal to 10,000t of carbon dioxide (CO2), an average of 28% less enteric methane emissions.

The companies behind the Bovaer project are aiming to roll it out across more of the Dutch dairy herd.

From this year, farmers using the additive in the Netherlands can be recognised for it through the carbon footprint measuring tool of the Dutch dairy sector.

One farmer involved in the project, Lars van den Nieuwenhof, who owns a farm with 125 dairy cows, commented: “As an industry, we are at tipping point. We have to move along and try to reduce methane emissions.”

“I am definitely satisfied with the results. The cows are producing well, are healthy, and fertile. We will continue to use the feed additive.”

Another farmer, Jelle Heida, said: “I participated in the Bovaer pilot because I was curious whether the feed additive would affect the fermentation process. I did not notice any effect as we added Bovaer to the ration.

“We also did not observe any changes in the health of our cows or in their milk production and composition,” Heida added.

FrieslandCampina is aiming to achieve a 33% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on its member dairy farms by 2030 compared to 2015 emissions figures.

The company said it is therefore working on various solutions to achieve this, of which the Bovaer project is one.

DSM’s Mark van Nieuwland commented: “We are delighted with the positive feedback from the dairy farmers involved in this large-scale pilot project, which has confirmed the potential of our innovative Bovaer feed additive.”

Van Nieuwland said that DSM will continue its partnership with FrieslandCampina and Agrifirm to roll the product out across more farms and cows across the Netherlands.