Cows emit methane gas into the atmosphere, a pollutant 25 times more detrimental to the environment than CO2. The methane comes from cow poo and produces carbon dioxide when it decomposes. Therefore, reducing your cow's diet to only grass increases the environmental impact of your food system.
Another way cows affect the environment is by consuming large amounts of water, especially in areas where drought is a problem. Dairy production requires a lot of water - about 880 gallons per day for each dairy cow! This amount is comparable to that used by a family of four people. Consuming large quantities of water is important because most cows in the United States are kept indoors all year round, even during California's rainy seasons. Indoor cows have no choice but to drink as much as they eat, which is why maintaining their diets is so important.
Finally, cows produce milk when they come into heat; this process removes the need for females to feed offspring directly after birth. Without this function, males would still be born, increasing the population size and leading to more competition for resources with other members of the species. All in all, cows cause damage to the environment by using up valuable resources like water and gas while producing methane, which can lead to climate change.
Pollution in the Air and Agriculture Cattle create methane by belching, farting, and waste (a mid-sized dairy farm with 200 cows produces around 24,000 pounds of manure each day), whereas chicken farms may emit large quantities of ammonia through excrement fermenting in the litter. Both forms of livestock production can lead to soil degradation and water contamination. Fish farms can also cause pollution if they are not managed properly; for example, if fish blood gets into the water it will clog up your pipes.
Livestock produce waste at a rate much higher than what their body size would suggest required for health. The digestive systems of animals cannot process all the food that they eat, so some of it passes through uneaten. This excess material includes leftover parts of the meal as well as urine and feces. Waste products from livestock release gases such as methane and carbon dioxide, or liquids such as urine and blood into the environment when they decompose. Methane is 23 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2 over a 20 year time span, and there is evidence that high levels of methane in the atmosphere can increase temperature fluctuations that lead to global warming.
The main way humans interact with agriculture pollution is in wastewater runoff, which can contain pesticides, fertilizers, animal byproducts such as meat and bone meal, and other chemicals used in agricultural production.
An overgrazed cow emits between 70 and 120 kilogram of methane each year. Methane, like carbon dioxide, is a greenhouse gas (CO2). As a result, each cow emits around 100 kilogram of methane per year, which is equivalent to approximately 2,300 kg of CO2 per year. This means that methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.
Methanogenesis is the process by which methane is produced from organic material such as cellulose and protein. Organic matter decomposes rapidly in soil with many microorganisms involved in this process. During this breakdown, certain bacteria use oxygen, nitrate, or sulfate as their electron acceptor to reduce carbon dioxide and produce energy for themselves. Some of these bacteria also produce hydrogen as a by-product of this process. The reduction of carbon dioxide results in the formation of acetate, lactate, ethanol, and other compounds. These compounds are then used by other bacteria or fungi for food or oxidized back into carbon dioxide and water vapor through a process called oxidation. Bacteria play an important role in removing pollutants from the environment through degradation (breaking down) and mineralization (turning into inert substances) of various chemicals. Cow manure is an example of a natural resource that can be used to remove contaminants from the environment while at the same time producing energy.
Cows also emit other gases such as hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, and oxy-carbons (methane, ethane, and propane).
Cattle are the world's leading agricultural generator of greenhouse emissions. According to Mitloehner, a professor and air quality specialist at the Department of Animal Science, methane from cattle has a shorter lifetime than carbon dioxide but is 28 times more effective in warming the environment. The main source of methane in livestock is their digestive systems; bacteria in their guts convert some of this gas into methanethiol, which is more toxic than methane itself.
The global annual output of methane is estimated to be about 25 billion tons, with agriculture being the largest source after landfills and waste dumps. There is also evidence that climate change caused by methane is actually worse than previously thought; scientists believe that it may have been underestimated by 30 percent or more.
Cattle play an important role in many cultures around the world. They provide meat for food and milk for medicine. In addition to helping humans survive, animals are also used in culture as means of transportation, work animals, and pets. Cattle have been used for work since ancient times; archaeologists have found bones and stone tools with signs of use by people who lived in Europe and North America more than 10,000 years ago.
However, today's cattle are not responsible for their own pollution - the manure they produce goes into lagoons or is sprayed on fields without treatment.