Klar: Cow and horse flatulence, compared

by John Klar

The problem of horse flatulence is not often discussed, yet there are important lessons to be learned from equine methane gas (via flatulence or burp), particularly to demonstrate the fraudulent claims leveled against cows as major polluters. Horses and cows impact the ecosystem differently, but the lies of climate alarmists about livestock remain the same.

Because they only have one stomach and digest feed differently from cows, horses generally produce less methane gas per animal than cows. There are also far more cows than horses—some 94.5 million bovines, versus about 7.25 equines. However, the methane produced by cows yields food: horses are a leisure interest. It is intriguing that climate alarmists would target food-producing greenhouse gas emissions as a priority over non-food-producing sources such as golf courses, downhill skiing, jet travel…. or dressage riding. 

Dressage rider and horse (Wikipedia)

But even for cows, there are complex differences in methane production depending on feed: grain-fed versus grass-fed cows impact the ecosystem differently. Many who tout industrial agriculture as humanity-saving slander grass-fed cows as destructive, but the opposite is the case.

Grass-fed cows grow more slowly (naturally) than grain-fed cows, so they take about 6 months longer to reach finished weight for slaughter. 

Critics claim this longer life increases methane, and that grain-fed cows produce less methane than grass-fed. Both claims are true, but employed to obscure the greenhouse gas and pollution emissions emitted by the production of grains. Most grains fed to cows are GMO monocultures (soy and corn), in turn dependent on fossil fuels, glyphosate and other chemical adjuncts, pesticides, herbicides, and bee-killing neonicotinoids. 

The tractors used to grow grains compact the soil, increasing erosion, water run-off, and loss of minerals. The chemical applications destroy vital microbes, and tilling releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in massive quantities. Suppose these additional measurements were included to determine the total environmental impact of grain-fed animals. In that case, the folly of the industrial claims that bigger is better, and that unnatural grain feeding is less destructive to the environment than grass-fed, become glaringly apparent.

The same is true of solar panels and EVs. By excluding the externalized chemical and other pollution created by manufacturing solar panels (mostly with coal, in Chinese factories) and EVs (consider the lithium mines alone!), climate alarmists push technologies that do the opposite of what is claimed. Even if solar panels are net-zero for greenhouse gasses (a highly dubious assertion), they are not net-zero for carcinogens, or a myriad of toxic heavy metals, untested chemicals, and energy inputs spewed like an enormous plume of filth from those faraway factories. Climate alarmists display images of forests burned in the Amazon to grow crops, but poo-poo pictures of lithium mines, with lakes of toxic tailings leaking across third-world landscapes.

(The author’s lambs feeding the soil and clearing weeds in Brookfield)

A critical thinker might also query how much concern humanity should hold for dogs and cats, which pass gas freely and now consume some 25% of all U.S. meat production (increasingly, of finer cuts for the gourmet market). Maligning millions of adored pets might be a problematic political pill to peddle, so the hapless, harmless cows—who have fed and clothed humans for tens of thousands of years—become the scapegoats. 

Pet rocks should be a Greta Thunberg favorite, yet no peep is uttered against canine/feline greenhouse gas pollution. 

The attacks on cows are revealed as scandalously false when further comparisons are made. Consider the environmental impact of cow manure versus cow burps; and then the contrasts between that natural fertilizer and the synthetic industrial fertilizers that presumably will be applied to crops in lieu.

Gas v. Solid; Burps Versus Cowpies

When Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (AOC) created a stir by flapping her flatulent lips against cow gasses, the ignorance displayed was profound. 

For one thing, most bovine emissions (about 95%) are burped up: fermentation occurs in the rumen. For another, AOC falsely labeled a gas as a pollutant, ignoring the solid waste that is (100%) emitted from the cow’s derriere. That manure is what humanity has used for eons to improve soil fertility and crop yields, and prevent desertification. (Indeed, human excrement has a long tradition of agricultural reincarnation.)

Manure v. Synthetic Urea; Tracing Methane

Cows on pasture distribute their manure, fertilizing the land sans tractors or chemical factories. As cows have been consolidated into CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) their manure has been collected in lagoons, where it is then mechanically spread using fossil fuels and industrial equipment, inflicting yet more soil compaction and chemical pollution. Natural, soil-building manures have been largely displaced by synthetic fertilizers, of which urea is key.

Industrial urea is produced using natural gas, aka methane. AOC and the other cow-clueless leaders on environmental policy are advocating to eliminate cows because they emit methane gas, and then replace their manure with industrial applications that destroy soil life and pollute waterways, that are manufactured from methane gas, and distributed using fossil fuels instead of solar-powered (i.e., on grass) cows.

How are the cows proposed to be replaced, in the name of providing an environmental offset against humans who pollute with fireworks, lawnmowers, and jet travel (or horse-riding) without procuring an iota of food? Their milk is to be replaced with soy, almond, cashew, or oat milk, which absorb massive and unsustainable amounts of water: most are “farmed” using chemical applications and fossil fuels. Cows’ meat is to be replaced with synthetic (primarily soy) artificial Frankensteinian concoctions, all dependent once again on industrial chemicals, fossil fuels, and sparkling new high-tech factories protected by regulations and patent ownership, and funded by profit-hungry hedge funds. What could possibly be awry?

(A cluster of Angus cows maintain this fabulous view in Chelsea; little black specks near the top center of the hillside.)

Grass-fed agricultural practices are healthier for farm animals, allowing them to roam rather than be locked in a concrete jungle. They are also much healthier for the humans who eat them, andthe environment. Cows are our climate allies, not adversaries, yet cow attacks continue, employing lies that favor industrial, chemical-dependent monocultures and increasing dependency on patented, processed foodstuffs.

Whether it is cow plops or horse dung, manure is an asset for the land that far exceeds any putative harm attributed to methane from gaseous emissions from either end of that innocent cow. Cow critics might see this, if they briefly dismounted from their high horses.

(Published in shortened form at Liberty Nation.)

The author is a Brookfield best-selling author, lawyer, farmer and pastor. Reprinted from the Small Farm Republic website.

Categories: Agriculture, Commentary

9 replies »

  1. Weird how North America was absolutely teeming with big, farting animals during the last Ice Age, or how it was covered with millions and millions of buffalo and other large animals just a few hundred years ago. The globalist powers that be just want us weak, and want to restrict the food supply, because commies love a good famine.

  2. Your Vermont dry sense of y’umor is showing John…and it is good!
    Pointing out the obvious…to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear…

  3. Worried about cow farts? Well in the early 1800s there were roughly 60 million buffalo residing in America. There are currently 9.4 million dairy and 31.7 million beef cows in America. You either have to prove cow farts are more destructive than buffalo farts or admit that cow farts aren’t really something to worry about.

  4. The real flatulence problem in Vermont is all the progressive democRATs
    we have in Montpelier, spewing toxic gas every day !!!

    Fools in charge, marching to an agenda………………….

  5. They cannot dismount their high horses because to do so would land them in their own neck deep bull excrement.

  6. Simple answer. They don’t pick on horse flatulence because their puppet masters didn’t put that idea into their heads…..yet.

  7. Don’t forget about the pesky zebras! Talk about nasty smell! They have to go!