… Elanco won approval in November from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for lubabegron as a way to cut ammonia in cattle waste. Research showed that, in particular conditions, adding Experior cut ammonia gas from cattle by 14% to 18%... George says he would use Experior if the new drug could help him make more money, but he’d need to see trial data to make a decision...
Why The Cattle Industry Might Not Use A Drug That Cuts The Pollution of Manure and Pee
By Corinne Boyer, High Plains Public Radio
July 8, 2019
GARDEN CITY — Nearly all American cattle spend their final months in massive feedlots, munching on feed designed to fatten them for slaughter.
But not all that goes into the beasts transforms to beef.
Their four-chamber-stomach digestive systems continually seep all forms of gasses, including the powerful greenhouse gas methane they burp up silently and constantly.
Cattle herds also produce ammonia. By the ton. It’s in their manure and especially in their urine. Because that pungent ammonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen, it can form nitrous oxide and pump more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.
But more immediately, ammonia poses a threat to our air and water.
What if you could add something to animal feed that changes the chemistry within cattle, that converts more of what they eat into weight and less in ammonia-heavy poop and pee? Turns out there’s a new drug for that. And one that, maybe, could help cattle put on weight.
It’s not yet on the market. Its manufacturer, Elanco, isn’t saying when Experior will be for sale or how much it will charge.
Ammonia can foul air quality so much that it contributes to potentially deadly respiratory diseases. Ammonia-heavy water runoff from cattle operations contributes to the nitrogen overload in lakes and rivers that trigger algae blooms. Those, in turn, ultimately suck oxygen from waterways and create dead zones, including a massive swath in the Gulf of Mexico.
Elanco won approval in November from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for lubabegron as a way to cut ammonia in cattle waste. Research showed that, in particular conditions, adding Experior cut ammonia gas from cattle by 14% to 18%.
That’s a fraction of a reduction. But in Kansas alone, about 2.4 million cattle can be found in feedlots on a given spring day.
“When you multiply it out by a lot of animals ... that can be pretty significant in terms of reducing ammonia emissions,” said Sara Place, the senior director for sustainable beef production research at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “We’ll never be able to totally eliminate those emissions, so it is more about those incremental reductions.”
At the Finney County Feedyard near Garden City, some 34,000 cattle fill pens lined with concrete feed bunks that stretch for hundreds of feet. Angus, Charolais and Hereford cattle retreat from those feed troughs as feedlot manager Jeff George drives by.
Three times a day, trucks drive back and forth delivering food, typically a mixture of corn, corn silage or other forage and vitamins.
Feedlots dot western Kansas because so much grain is grown nearby and because meatpacking plants across this corner of the state exist to slaughter and cut up cattle into hamburger and steak.
George says he would use Experior if the new drug could help him make more money, but he’d need to see trial data to make a decision...
more, including links, audio [3:58 min.]