Picture of Cow

According to UN forecasts, there will 10 billion people to feed by 2050. This is a major challenge. We must produce more food while using fewer resources and reducing our carbon footprint. 

02 Jul 2020 - 01 Jul 2024

Research Council of Norway, Young Research Talents - FRIPRO

  • Agriculture is the world's single largest provider of food, yet it is also accountable for a significant part of our anthropogenic carbon emissions, including production of methane gas by cows. Nutritional manipulation of methane production is considered a feasible strategy that, however, still is relatively unexplored and where rationalization is still far off. Notably, feeding seaweed to cows has recently emerged as a promising strategy for reducing methane production. Understanding of this effect requires a holistic insight into the maze of metabolic routes that constitutes the rumen microbiome, an elaborate community comprised of bacteria, archaea, viruses and eukaryotes. Despite the rumen microbiome being key in solving the cow-methane problem, definitive links between what the cows eat, their microbiome, their methane emissions and their productivity remain largely unknown.

  • SeaCow's main objectives are to characterize the microbiome-host interactions that underlie the metabolic transformation during inhibition of enteric methane production in cows using novel seaweed-based nutritional manipulation strategies. Animal feeding trials will elucidate the real effect of seaweed additives on Norwegian Red cattle, whereas a unique state-of-the-art characterization of the rumen microbiome will model metabolic routes and keystone microbial populations that drive host performance and methane emissions. Importantly, this approach entails focus on emerging less studied members of the rumen microbiota (such as eukaryotes). Ultimately, the outcome of the SeaCow project will enhance our understanding of the feed-microbiome-host axis that is crucial to optimize feeding regimes in agriculture to promote an efficient and low methane emitting livestock.


Project timeline

01 Mar 2021

Feeding trials

10 Aug 2020

Seaweed collected in Portugal

01 Jul 2020

Project start

Live Heldal Hagen, KBM

Hva skjer egentlig i magen på kua når den produserer metan?

Når kua fordøyer gresset den spiser, produseres metangass i vommen. Men hva skjer egentlig i kumagen? Og er det noe vi kan gjøre for å redusere metanproduksjonen? NMBU-forskere er i gang med å undersøke nettopp dette. 

Katrine Emma

Master students have important roles during the feeding trials.

The two master students Katrine S. Eikanger (left) and Emma Nyløy (right) have had important roles in the feeding trial. Katrine in the planning of the trial design and analysing methane, milk and performance data, and Emma in looking at the ruminating behaviour of seaweed-eating cows.