An Agricultural Research Service scientist believes he has found a way to cut the amount of ammonia produced by cattle, deer, sheep, goats and other ruminant animals. According to ARS microbiologist Michael Flythe, hops commonly used in brewing beer can be a significant player in reducing hyper-ammonia-producing bacteria. That’s the bacteria that produces ammonia in ruminant livestock.
Flythe explains cattle, deer, sheep, goats and other ruminant animals depend on a slew of naturally occurring bacteria to aid digestion of grass and other fibrous plants in the first of their four stomach chambers, known as the rumen. While other bacteria are helping their bovine hosts convert plant fibers to cud, HABs are breaking down amino acids, a chemical process that produces ammonia and robs the animals of the amino acids they need to build muscle tissue.
Flythe, who works at the ARS Forage Animal Production Research Unit in Lexington, Kentucky, says he has found that either dried hops flowers or hops extracts inhibited HAB growth and ammonia production.