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Tests by scientists from the University of Newcastle have suggested that spices commonly used in curry could cut methane emissions from flatulent sheep.

Research student Mohammad Mehedi Hasan and Dr Abdul Shakoor Chaudhry probed the possible beneficial effects on ovine guts of cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin and turmeric.

Perhaps mercifully, they chose not to test their cunning curry plan on live sheep, but rather ground the spices "to simulate chewing by the sheep", before sticking them in an in-vitro solution which acted as a subsitute sheepish digestive fluid.

The results were that coriander reduced methane production by 40 per cent, while turmeric and cumin provoked cuts of 30 and 22 per cent, respectively.

Hasan said: “Spices have long been used safely by humans to kill bacteria and treat a variety of ailments - coriander seeds, for example, are often prescribed for stomach complaints while turmeric and cloves are strong antiseptics.

“Methane is a major contributor to global warming and the slow digestive system of ruminant animals such as cows and sheep makes them a key producer of the gas.

“What my research found was that certain spices contain properties which make this digestive process more efficient so producing less waste – in this case, methane.”

The findings form part of ongoing research by Hasan and Chaudhry, the latest episode of which ("Chemical Composition of Selected Forages and Spices and the Effect of These Spices on In vitro Rumen Degradability of Some Forages") can be found in the Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences. ®

Bootnote

The article listing of the current issue of Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences makes for some interesting reading. Consider if you will "Effect of Selenium-enriched Japanese Radish Sprouts and Rhodobacter capsulatus on the Cholesterol and Immune Response of Laying Hens", "Sensory, Physicochemical and Microbiological Changes in Water-cooked Salted Duck during Storage at 4°C", or even "Quality Evaluation of Sliced and Pizza Cheeses Treated by Gamma and Electron Beam Irradiation".

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