Newcastle University: curry cuts sheep methane

Feeding traditional curry spices to sheep could help reduce emissions and help the environment, according to latest research from scientists.

A study by Newcastle University research student Mohammad Mehedi Hasan and Dr Abdul Shakoor Chaudhry found that feeding coriander and tumeric to sheep can reduce the production of methane by up to 40%.

The research claims that the spices act like an antibiotic, killing the methane-producing bacteria in the animals gut.

Five curry spices were trialled in the study - cumin, coriander, clove, turmeric and cinnamon - and all were ground up to simulate chewing by the sheep, before being added to an in-vitro solution which mimicked the internal digestion of a sheep.

The level of methane released by each was measured against a control, and the most effective was found to be coriander, which reduced methane production from 14ml/gram to 8ml/g - a drop of 40%. Turmeric produced a 30 per cent reduction and cumin 22 per cent.

While the research was conducted in the sheep sector, Dr Chaudry said he expected the spices to have similar results in other ruminant livestock, such as goats and cows.

The research is published today in the Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences 2010.

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