There is a growing trend to use cows as a solution for reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. Cow dung, or manure, is being used to provide electricity in Kansas, where cows outnumber people two to one. [1] In a demonstration project, manure from a cattle feedlot will be used to power 30 nearby homes. Over the course of a year, just one cow's manure contains the same amount of energy found in 140 gallons of gasoline. The manure can be turned into gasoline, or in other farmland states, chicken and turkey droppings are being directly burned in coal-fired plants.

Utilizing dung for energy is not a new concept. American pioneers burned buffalo chips to stay warm at night during their westward treks. “More recently, dairy farmers in the 1970s were encouraged to install manure digesters that produced methane to run electric generators. A cow could produce enough manure to run a 100-watt light bulb for one and a half days. But design problems with the digesters and cheaper energy prices thwarted the idea. As energy prices climbed in recent years, better designed digesters at dairy farms have begun to rebound.” [2]

“Kansas has nearly 100 commercial feedlots that fatten 2.5 million cows every six months. Each produces an average of 6 pounds to 8 pounds of manure a day — 7 billion pounds a year.”

“Many environmentalists aren't wild about manure, cringing when it's called green power. Burning manure produces carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. But it's considered carbon neutral because manure left to degrade also contributes greenhouse gases.”

This is a nice development, rather than raising cows to eat them, cows could be utilized as a solution to the energy crisis!

Of course, I am being utopian to think that big agribusiness would stop the wholesale slaughter of hundreds of millions of cows a year. Agribusiness sees the use of cow manure for energy as a further way to maximize income and reduce costs as they brutally exploit the cows in the process of breeding and fattening them for slaughter. They have no concern for the cows, seeing them merely as things, inputs in a factory farming system that engages in wholesale slaughter. The meat production industry is extremely efficient, nothing goes to waste, all parts of the carcass are utilized in one way or another. Utilizing their manure is just another way to make money out of them.

Other cultures, particularly in India, have long recognized the value of cow dung. Both cow manure and urine have antiseptic properties. In fact, in India cow dung is scarce as it is scooped up quickly to use as a fertilizer, fuel, as well as a building material for structures.

Love Life! Love animals, don't eat them.

Mark Fergusson