Researchers at Aberystwyth University in Wales report that adding sandalwood, or a sandalwood analog, to cattle feed reduces methane production in the rumen.
Sandalwood is an aromatic tree, grown primarily in the Southern Hemisphere, used for centuries in production of incense and perfumes.
The research team, led by Professor Jamie Newbold of Aberystwyth University, claim that adding sandalwood to feed reduces growth of rumen microbes that produce methane, which is implicated as a key greenhouse gas generated in livestock production. Trials in a fermenter designed to simulate a rumen showed adding a sandalwood analog achieved a 25 percent reduction in methane production. In field trials with sheep, feeding two milliliters of the product per day reduced methane emissions by 20 percent.
In news reports, the research team suggests the reduction in methane production provides an additional benefit by diverting more energy to growth, thus improving animal performance. The reports do not, however provide evidence for this claim.
The research group has applied for a patent on the process. The reports do not list a price for the sandalwood product or speculate on how its use in livestock feed might impact incense and perfume manufacturers or hippie communes.
But regardless of whether the product has any effect on greenhouse gasses or livestock growth, just think how nice feedlots will smell.
Read more about the research findings.