The benefits to animals of omega 3 fatty acids in fish oils have been well documented â€“ helping the heart and circulatory system, improving meat quality and reducing methane emissions.
These last two benefits may only apply to cows but lowering emissions is important for the environment, as methane given off by farm animals is a major contribution to greenhouse gas levels. Researchers from University College Dublin reported that by including 2% fish oil in the diet of cattle, they achieved a reduction in the amount of methane released by the animals.
Speaking at the Society for General Microbiology meeting in Harrogate March 30, Dr Lorraine Lillis, one of the researchers, said, "The fish oil affects the methane-producing bacteria in the rumen part of the cow's gut, leading to reduced emissions. Understanding which microbial species are particularly influenced by changes in diet and relating them to methane production could bring about a more targeted approach to reducing methane emissions in animals."