The trial, conducted from January to March 2023, was a collaborative effort involving the Babybel maker Bel Group, Bel’s Milk Producers Association in the West of France (APBO), and DSM-Firmenich.
The APBO comprises approximately 700 dairy farms under supply contracts with Bel in France, providing 415 million liters of milk annually. Over the past six years, Bel has actively worked with farmers to promote sustainability and animal welfare in the dairy industry. Initiatives have included carbon audits and action plans to reduce emissions.
For this pilot project, five representative farms with varying feed distribution equipment, ration types, and distribution arrangements were selected to test the effectiveness of Bovaer. The dairy cows received the feed additive at a rate of approximately a quarter teaspoon per day in their diet.
Bel technicians collected data and analyzed ration samples during the trial, with interpretation conducted by experts from Idele, the French institute for livestock breeding. The results, under optimal usage conditions, indicated a reduction in enteric methane emissions ranging from 29% to 42%, depending on the farm, over the two months of the study.
These findings align with existing evidence suggesting an average 30% reduction in methane emissions can be expected.
Simon Bonnet, Director of Milk Purchasing for the Bel Group, expressed enthusiasm about the results, saying, “Bovaer offers immense potential for moving towards a low-carbon dairy industry, a strong and long-standing commitment of the Bel Group. Today, we are delighted to have been able to test this innovative solution in France and demonstrate its relevance, working in concert with our dairy farmers from APBO, Idele, and DSM-Firmenich.”
Yoann Lézé, Vice-Chairman of APBO, shared the commitment of responsible milk producers to reduce the carbon footprint of their farms, noting their awareness of innovations like Bovaer that can contribute to this goal.
In July 2023, the Bel Group announced plans to roll out the Bovaer feed additive to farms in its Slovak dairy basin, which supplies the Bel plant in Michalovce. This Slovak plant produces Babybel cheeses for consumers in the UK, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.
Meanwhile, DSM-Firmenich is actively developing a slow-release form of the product, which is expected to extend Bovaer’s efficacy during the hours when cows are out at pasture, further contributing to reducing methane emissions in the dairy industry.
The successful trial of Bovaer in France represents a significant step toward achieving a more sustainable and environmentally friendly dairy industry, showcasing the potential for innovation to address pressing challenges in agriculture and livestock farming.