Company that launched AK kelp farms at Kodiak aims for large-scale growth of seaweed for livestock feed

A leader in AK kelp farming is producing seaweed that greatly reduces methane from livestock burps and farts.

by | August 18, 2022

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Seaweed added to feeds reduces methane from burps/farts by more than 80%

Credit: Washington State Wire

I have have followed studies in Australia and Canada for several years showing that small amounts of red seaweed added to livestock feed greatly reduces methane from the gas they pass in burps and farts. Research has proven that adding it to cattle diets does not hurt their growth or change the taste of beef or milk.

Cattle that ate just three ounces of seaweed daily over five months gained as much weight as their herd mates while burping out 82% less methane into the atmosphere.

Methane is an especially potent greenhouse gas, produced naturally by cattle, pigs and other livestock during the digestion of grass and other feeds.

Cow burps alone  account for 26 percent of the nation’s total methane emissions according to the EPA, and the U.S. is only the world’s fourth-largest producer of cattle, behind China, Brazil, and India.

Researchers claim that if just 10% of global livestock producers added 1% of Asparagopsis seaweed meal to the daily feeds of livestock, it would be similar to taking 100 million cars off the road.

One problem:  all researchers used a red seaweed found in warmer waters throughout the Pacific called Asparagopsis toxiformis. It’s one of the most popular seaweed ingredients in Hawaiian cuisine and used traditionally in poke.

 Asparagopsis toxiformis seaweed

But the supply from wild harvests is not enough to go around and startups are underway around the world to produce it.

That now includes Blue Evolution, the California-based company that worked with Kodiak kelp farmers to produce and harvest Alaska’s first commercial crop in 2018. The Kodiak kelp is produced into dried pastas, fresh and frozen products and extracts.

Fellow seaweed company, Blue Ocean Barns of Hawaii has contracted with Blue Evolution on a project to commercialize large-scale farming of Asparagopsis taxiformis for Blue Ocean Barns’ seaweed-based cattle feed supplement called Brominate.

Blue Ocean Barns was the first to market globally with a safe seaweed digestive aid, according to a press release.  

To meet Blue Ocean Barns’ ambitious goal of supplementing one million cows within four years, Blue Evolution is building additional nursery and seaweed production systems at its Baja California seaweed farm

What companies already use this red seaweed supplement?

Dairy industry leaders Ben & Jerry’s, Clover Sonoma, and Straus Family Creamery, to name a few.

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About Laine

Laine Welch has covered the Alaska fish beat for print and radio since 1988. She also has worked “behind the counter” at retail and wholesale seafood companies in Kodiak and on Cape Cod.


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