• Question: Do some of the microbes cause cows to produce more methane than the others?

    Asked by sarah07 to Chloe on 29 Apr 2020.
    • Photo: Chloe Matthews

      Chloe Matthews answered on 29 Apr 2020:

      Hi sarah07! That’s a really great question! The short answer is yes, some of them produce more methane than others. Some don’t produce any at all. Methane is only produced by certain types of microbes. So there are lots of different types of these microbes found in cows and in their 4 different stomachs. In there, we find bacteria, fungi, viruses and archaea (these are all usually good guys and they all work together to form a great big team). The stomach that is responsible for methane production is called the rumen. Some archaea are methanogens and the type that we mainly find in the rumen. They produce the methane. They eat up food produced by other bacteria and produce methane and carbon dioxide. The cows then burp this out. These little microbes are really fussy though, and if the cows change diets (say from eating loads of grass to eating some grass and some cereal grains), the methanogen population in the stomach is reduced. And because of that, so if methane. Even though they can produce lots of methane they are only found at about 3% in the rumen. It’s the non-methane producing bacteria that make up most of the population! I hope this helps to answer your question! 🙂