For almost a century, antibiotics have been used as treatment for ailments in humans and animals alike. Recently, however, experts are raising questions about whether or not antibiotics should be used on livestock. Now, a new study finds that there could be one more reason to stop the use of antibiotics in cows — cow poop could be contributing to global warming.
For some time now, questions have been raised about the continued effectiveness of antibiotics. One potential negative side effect of using antibiotics is the development of antibiotic resistant infections. Scientists are struggling to find new ways to combat these types of infections and halt the development of unstoppable superbugs.
In addition to these concerns, a new study suggests that antibiotics could be contributing to environment-ruining cow poo. Methane — a greenhouse gas that is a contributor in the earth’s rising temperature — is naturally occurring to an extent in all cow dung. The study suggests, however, that in cows who were treated with antibiotics, the methane footprint in their dung was approximately 80% higher than in cows who were not treated. This means that every time one of these cows poops, passes gas, or burps (and we are talking about cows here—not the classiest members of the animal kingdom), they are releasing much higher levels of dangerous gas into the atmosphere.
The study also researched the ecosystem surrounding each cow to see if there were effects on size and offspring production of dung beetles. While there was a change in the bacteria inside the dung beetles, it did not appear to effect the overall size or number of offspring in the beetles. Still, it is always worth considering how one decision, treatment or change can effect more than just the target.