Friday, September 24, 2010

Oregano as a Fodder Supplement

A quick look at the growing of oregano suggests that it may mix well with clover to provide an improved supplement to cattle fodder. Otherwise this is useful news, not so much because anyone cares about methane so much, but everyone cares about improved milk production.  The reduction in methane production is a bonus.

In any event, I am sure seeds are available and once this is understood it will surely become common practice unless we have missed something like oregano flavored milk.  This is not to be tried with onion or garlic.

Of course a company needs to make a salable supplement, however that is not a farmer’s interest and this is simply too basic.

Herb Quells Cows' Methane-Laden Belches

By Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Managing Editor

posted: 09 September 2010 09:30 am ET

For scientists concerned about greenhouse gas emissions, cow farts are nowhere near as problematic as their methane-laden belches. Now a new oregano supplement could stem the burps and reduce the potent methane emissions.

Worldwide, cows are responsible for 37 percent of the human-produced methane, according to study researcher Alexander Hristov, an associate professor of dairy nutrition at Penn State University. Most of that methane comes not from the backsides of cows, but from the gas they belch after digesting their food, according to Hristov and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. [Read "Marshes Pass Too Much Gas"]

"The cow 'farts' very little methane," Hristov told LiveScience. "The vast majority of methane is produced in the rumen and is belched out."

Methanogenic bacteria in the rumen, the largest compartment of the four-chambered stomach, break down the material into nutrients. Two of the byproducts are carbon dioxide and methane.

After screening hundreds of essential oils, plants and various compounds in the lab, Hristov found that oregano consistently reduced methane without showing any negative effects.

Tests on lactating cows at Penn State's dairy barns showed the supplement decreased methane emissions by 40 percent.

"Less methane produced means less methane in the belches and probably fewer belches, because methane can make up to 30-40 percent of the rumen gas," Hristov said.

The supplement also increased daily milk production by nearly 3 pounds (1.4 kilograms) of milk for each cow during the trials.

"Since methane production is an energy loss for the animal, this isn't really a surprise," Hristov said. "If you decrease energy loss, the cows can use that energy for other processes, such as making milk."

Follow-up trials should firm up the supplement's methane-curbing abilities. Then, Hristov hopes to identify the active ingredients in the supplement in order to produce purer products.

The work will be presented at the 4th International Greenhouse Gases and Animal Agriculture (GGAA) Conference in October in Banff, Canada. Results will also be published in a forthcoming special issue of the journal Animal Feed Science and Technology.

Growing Oregano: An Oregano by Any Other Name, Would Not Taste as Sweet

By Marie Iannotti, Guide

Pink Flowered Oregano Plant.


Culinary oregano is a signature flavor of many Italian, Mexican and Spanish dishes. Most cooks are familiar with it in its dried form, but oregano is a hardy perennial plant that is easy to grow in the home garden. A handful of plants will provide you with enough oregano to use fresh in season and to dry for use throughout the winter.
There are many varieties, but the most common variety for cooking is 'Greek' oregano. The more pungent 'Mexican' oregano, Lippia graveolens, isn't really an oregano at all. Mexican oregano is often used in chili powders. 'Golden' oregano is very ornamental, but not as flavorful.

Latin Name:

Origanum vulgare

Common Name:


USDA Hardiness Zones:

Zones: 5-10, depending on variety.
Oregano heracleoticum, 'Greek Oregano', is hardy in Zones 5-9.


Golden oregano does best in partial shade; its leaves tend to scorch in full sun.

Mature Size:

Oregano can reach a height of 30", but usually grows between 8-12", especially if you are harvesting regularly. Plants will spread about 18" and will send out runners.

Bloom Period/Days to Harvest:

As with most herbs, oregano leaves taste best before the plant flowers. You can begin harvesting when plants have reached 4-5 inches in height. Cutting stems all the way back to the ground will encourage more stems and a fuller plant.
The stems tend to get woody and the easiest way to strip the leaves is to hold the stem by the top, uncut end and run your finger down the stem.


Plants in the genus Origanum are can be perennial ground covers, tender perennials or even small perennial subshrubs. Even Origanum vulgare can take many forms. Most have stems that can get very woody.

Foliage: Oregano leaves are oval, dark green and in opposite pairs. Some varieties have fuzzy leaves, others not.

Flowers: The flowers stalks are spiky and may be white, pink or purple.
Oregano starts out as a ground hugging rosette of leaves, but it can easily grow to about 2' tall.

Design Suggestions:

Although it is grown predominately as a culinary herb, oregano makes a nice edging plant and ground cover, requiring little maintenance. The smaller varieties also do well in rock and alpine gardens.


There are many named oreganos, but the common names tend to vary by region:
'Greek Oregano', the variety usually used in Mediterranean cooking, is O. heracleoticumThis is the type we associate with oregano flavor. You may also see Oregano onites listed as Greek oregano.

O. vulgare is known as 'Common Oregano', 'Wild Marjoram' and 'Pot Marjoram'. Marjoram is a type of oregano with a less pungent, sweeter taste, often used in French and English cooking.

Growing Tips:

Starting Plants: Plants can be started from seeds, divisions or cuttings. Since different species of oregano will cross pollinate, you may not get what you expect from seed.
Oregano seeds require some light to germinate, so cover only slightly with soil. Start seeds indoors and transplant when temperatures remain above 45 degrees F.
Oregano plants are widely available in nurseries and through specialty catalogs.
Planting: Oregano is one of those 'Mediterranean' herbs that like well-drained soil, on the lean side, and full sun. Rich soil tends to dilute the pungency of the flavor. Climate, soil and moisture can cause variation in oregano’s flavor. The genus is native to the Mediterranean area, but O. vulgare has naturalized in many areas, including the eastern United States.
Maintenance: The flowers should be pinched to keep the plants bushy and prevent them bolting to seed.
Divide plants when the centers begin to die out or the stems become too woody. You can also divide plants simply to make more plants.
Oregano may need some winter protection in Zones 5 and lower. Covering the plants with an evergreen bough, after the ground has frozen, will protect them from wind damage.
Problems: Few pests bother oregano. Keep an eye out for spider mites and aphids.
Harvesting: Once the plant has reached 4-5", sprigs can be taken. Harvesting before the plant blooms will yield the most flavorful leaves. Levels of essential oils diminish as the flowers begin to develop.
Uses: It’s the leaves that are used for flavoring foods. They retain their flavor better in hot dishes if added toward the end of cooking. Heating too long results in bitterness. Dried oregano has a stronger taste than fresh.
There are plants outside of the Origanum genus that are sometimes referred to as oregano.
'Mexican Oregano' can mean either Lippia graveolens or Poliomintha longiflora. They are considered similar in flavor, but stronger than oregano.

In Puerto Rico and Cuba, Plectranthus anboinicus can be found labeled as oregano
Thymus nummularius is often used in place of oregano, in Spain.

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