Wine grapes continue to attract attention for the health benefits they provide. But no one really considered them as a feed for dairy cows until last week’s stunning announcement from Australia. 

Scientists from the Department of Primary Industries, a government agency in Victoria, Australia, have found that the stems, seeds and skins from wine grapes can reduce cow emissions by 20 percent. And, those same leftovers from the wine-making process can also boost milk production by 5 percent.  Read more.

DPI senior researcher Peter Moate says scientists have tried feeding different fat sources to cows, thinking those would be the most likely to cut methane emissions. Then, they decided to try feeding grape marc — the stems, seeds and skins — because it is also high in fat.

The 20 percent reduction in emissions, he says, is a “substantial decrease.”

“There won’t be a single silver bullet to completely eliminate the methane,” he says. “But by using a number of feed supplements and a number of different management strategies, we might be able to reduce methane emissions perhaps more than 50 percent.”

He says researchers will continue research into grape marc to determine the optimal feeding strategies.

“We’ve had no problems with the cows eating the grape marc,” he says. “They’ve polished it all up.”