Preliminary findings of northeast organic and conventional dairy farmers' perception of benefits and challenges in feeding algae

Michelle K. Tynan, Marie Claire Bryant, Rick Welsh, Sabrina L. Greenwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Enteric fermentation from livestock accounts for over a quarter of the United States' methane emissions. A potent greenhouse gas, methane has 80 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. An emerging focus of research is the incorporation of algae (e.g., kelp, seaweed or microalgae) into livestock feed, with several studies documenting dramatic suppression of enteric methane emissions in cattle. As part of a nationwide multidisciplinary study of using algae feed supplements to reduce methane emissions and improve dairy productivity, we used focus groups and individual interviews to measure organic and conventional dairy farmer's knowledge and opinions of algae-based feed supplements. Our goals were to learn what both organic and conventional dairy farmers know about algae-based feed supplements, why they do or do not feed them to their cows and if they were interested in the methane-reducing potential of these algal-based feeds. We also sought to understand where they get valued information about animal nutrition. We found most farmers were aware of algae-based feed supplements on the market, but organic farmers were more familiar with marketing claims. Farmers reported feeding algae-based feed supplements to address herd health concerns, especially reproductive issues and pink eye, but expressed rising costs of the supplements as an obstacle. Both organic and conventional farmers expressed interest in suppressing methane emissions, but only if incentives are provided. Lastly, participants receive trusted information about feed supplements from their dairy nutritionists, who help them make decisions around feed purchasing and rations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere23
JournalRenewable Agriculture and Food Systems
StatePublished - May 1 2023


  • dairy cattle
  • enteric methane
  • farmer knowledge
  • kelp
  • seaweed

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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