The potential use of fermented seaweed in sustainable dairy cattle rations

Dairy farming faces major challenges. On the one hand, pressure is being put on the protein supply, in order to reduce the import of (soy) protein as well as to prevent protein losses in the form of ammonia. At the same time, there are also major challenges in terms of climate goals. Fermented seaweed with rapeseed meal may contribute to all these themes.

The seaweed is a product rich in bioactive components grown in the surrounding (sea) areas. Fresh seaweed does not keep for a long time, but it can be well preserved through fermentation. In the European Protein factory, seaweed is fermented and dried together with locally grown rapeseed meal, resulting in a protein-rich product that retains the bioactive substances from seaweed that can have an effect on rumen fermentation.

The aim

As a locally grown source, fermented seaweed with rapeseed meal may contribute to a reduction of the climate impact or make a positive contribution to animal health.

What research do we conduct?

The effect of fermented seaweed with rapeseed meal in dairy cattle rations is being evaluated. Various characteristics are examined: is it tasty (feed intake), is the protein quality sufficient (for good protein efficiency) and are the bioactive substances in seaweed able to influence the rumen fermentation and thus reduce enteric methane emissions even after fermentation.

How do we conduct research?

Part of the rapeseed meal based ration is exchanged with the fermented seaweed and rapeseed meal product. We measure all kinds of characteristics, such as feed intake, milk yield, milk composition and methane emissions. From this we can determine what the effects of the fermented product are on the cow. By further developing this concept, dairy farming with fermented seaweed can potentially reduce both its soybean import and its methane emissions, while having a lesser impact on its environment. This contributes to sustainable and future-proof livestock farming.


Methane (CH4) is a greenhouse gas formed in a cow's rumen during feed fermentation and has up to 28-32x more greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide (CO2). Dairy farming worldwide emits approximately 30% of the total amount of greenhouse gases from the total livestock industry, 44% of which consists of CH4 emissions.

As a locally grown source, seaweed may contribute to a reduction of the climate impact or make a positive contribution to animal health. A disadvantage of fresh seaweed is that it does not keep for a long time and drying costs a relatively large amount of energy. A possible alternative to drying is preservation via fermentation.

The unique EP199 product, a composition of fermented rapeseed meal and seaweed, has shown promising results in improving the (intestinal) health of sows and piglets in previous experiments and field tests. Previous laboratory tests have shown that fermented seaweed has the potential to reduce methane production. Comparable positive effects on rumen fermentation may be achieved for dairy cattle, potentially contributing to the reduction of enteric methane emissions and improving the overall health of the cow. This directly contributes to future sustainable livestock farming, both by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving animal health.