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Advanced technology for the cow of the future. US Patent number 7966971. What is GreenFeed?

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Advanced technology for the cow of the future

What is GreenFeed?

The patented (additional patents pending) GreenFeed system quantitatively and unobtrusively monitors methane (CH4 ), carbon dioxide (CO2), and other selected trace gas mass fluxes emitted from the mouth and nose of cattle during eructation and respiration.

CH4 is a powerful greenhouse gas that is produced by anaerobic digestion in the rumen, and CH4 production represents an energy loss of two to ten percent of a cow’s gross energy intake. Rumen CH4 and CO2 fluxes are also sensitive to rumen function, diet, behavior, health, and genetics. In addition, respiratory CO2 fluxes can be used to estimate energy balances, and efficiency, for individual cattle.

The GreenFeed system makes automated,periodic measurements of CH4 and CO2 fluxes for many individuals several times each day while each animal visits a feeder-station. The periodic daily data, when aggregated over time, allows the user to track and compare emissions for large groups of individual animals. The individual animal data can also be aggregated as totals for the herd.

  • Overall, the GreenFeed system is unobtrusive to the animal, user-friendly, and simple to maintain and operate. Compared to “classical” methods such as calorimetric chambers or the SF6 tracer method, GreenFeed is inexpensive to acquire and operate. In contrast to alternative techniques, GreenFeed is portable, standardized, and does not require intensive animal or technician training. GreenFeed systems can be used in tie-stalls, free-stall barns, feedlots, or pastures. GreenFeed has also been retro-fitted into robotic milking machines and can be adapted to operate with a wide range of watering , feed and dairy systems.


Patented technology

Patented Technology

  • The operation of GreenFeed is analogous to a highly instrumented portable “fume hood”. Field-operation consists of the following sequence:

  • A target animal approaches the unit and is identified by an integrated RFID reader.

  • User-specified “bait” is delivered to a specially-designed feed tray and gas intake manifold. Bait can consist of feed pellets, minerals or water.

  • The animal inserts its head to consume the feed.

  • Simultaneously, a fan pulls air at a specified mass flow rate over the animal’s head and nostrils, through the intake manifold, and into the air-flow handling and monitoring system.

  • A proximity sensor detects and documents the position of the animal’s nose in relation to the air-sampling manifold inlet.

  • Continuous measurements of CH4 and CO2, and airflow are recorded at a resolution of about one second.

  • A tracer is periodically released into the feeder near the animal’s nose, and then measured to determine the “capture rate” of gases emitted from the animal that enter the manifold.

  • The data is stored and periodically transmitted to a server, where it is processed and the mass fluxes of gasses from each animal are directly calculated for each feeding period.

Advanced technology for the cow of the future

GreenFeed can measure Methane and Carbon Dioxide emissions in any cattle system!

Portable, Push-Cart GreenFeed for Tie-Stall use

GreenFeed Fitted into a Milking Robot

Portable, solar-powered GreenFeed trailer for use in Pastures.

Advanced technology for the cow of the future

Layout of the GreenFeed Stand-Alone Feeder Dioxide emissions in any cattle system!

Portable, trailer mounted GreenFeed

Advanced technology for the cow of the future

How Mass Fluxes are Calculated Using GreenFeed Dioxide emissions in any cattle system!

The mass fluxes of CH4 and CO2 (or any other measured gas) are directly monitored and calculated from measured trace gas concentrations, airflow, and other supporting data collected by GreenFeed. Basically, the measured increase in concentrations compared to the background (ambient) levels are multiplied by the measured airflow rate. Then the ideal gas laws are applied to convert the data to mass fluxes. The math is similar to that used in most chamber studies. However, unlike chamber equations, an additional “capture” rate adjustment factor is applied using data from the GreenFeed tracer release. The correct dimensional conversion factors are also used.


CR= Capture rate adjustment, determined using the tracer

Dt = Time period over which emissions are measured (1 second)

CH4avg = Average concentrations during the measurement period (%)

CH4bkgrnd= Background concentrations of CH4 (%)

Qair = Airflow rate during the measurement period (flow per unit time)

Fc = Dimensional factor

  • Once the volume of CH4 or CO2emitted by the cow per unit time is calculated, it is straight-forward to convert the data into mass fluxes for each trace gas of interest using ideal gas laws and the molecular masses of the gasses. The fluxes can be plotted second-by-second, as shown on the opposing page for one five-minute feeding period.

  • Then,for each feeding period, the mass of methane and total time of each measured eructation is calculated. The sum of all of the eructations measured during a feeding period is then divided by the time length of the measured eructations to calculate a mass flux per unit of time. Eructation data is filtered based on the head position data, therefore not every eructation during a specific feeding period may be quantified. The mass fluxes over time for several feeding periods for one cow then can be plotted and averaged (opposing page).

Flux calculation examples
Flux Calculation Examples Dioxide emissions in any cattle system!

Each Peak is an Eructation

Methane Flux Calculation Example, Average Flux for a Feeding Period

CH4 mass emitted = 0.23 g + 0.26 g + 0.7 g + 0.31 g = 1.07 g

Total Time = 72 s + 79 s + 76 s + 67 s = 294 seconds

CH4 Flux = 1.07 g/294 s= 0.0036 g/s = 13.1 g/hr

Methane Flux Calculation Example, Average Flux from One Cowfor Twelve Feeding Periods over Four Days

Results from greenfeed
Results from GreenFeed Dioxide emissions in any cattle system!

Methane and Carbon Dioxide Concentrations for Five Consecutive Feeding Periods from Five Different Cows

Average Monthly Methane Emissions for Several Different Animals

Greenfeed is online
GreenFeed is Online! Dioxide emissions in any cattle system!

  • GreenFeed includes web-based software tools to control and review results from any computer in the world with an internet connection.

  • Individual user login and password is secure.

  • Allows user to control feeder functions and settings in real-time

  • Control individual animal baiting schedules and rates

  • Review real-time data

  • View webcam, watch the cows visit the feeder

  • Access and plot real-time data

  • Access and plot historical data

  • Many education and training applications and opportunities

Possibilities Dioxide emissions in any cattle system!

GreenFeed’s unique capabilities facilitate many new research and management possibilities. Monitoring changes in CH4and CO2 emissions from individual animals over time providesimportant information about consumption, health, behavior, and efficiency. Since GreenFeed directly monitors metabolic gas fluxes, GreenFeed data can be used to evaluate and understand how management strategies impact metabolic function and animal efficiency. It is therefore well suited for animal efficiency research applications.

GreenFeed is an ideal tool to accelerate the rising international efforts such as “The Cow of the Future” to improve ruminant efficiency and reduce ruminant methane emissions. GreenFeed measurements are automated and standardized, therefore allowing the direct comparison of research results from around the world.

GreenFeed is also ideal for genomics studies related to methane, carbon dioxide, and ultimately animal efficiency. This research requires quick screening of many animals for desirable traits. GreenFeed is ideal for quickly measuring CH4 and CO2 emissions for large numbers of animals.

GreenFeed has been used as the primary measurement system in experimental trials to determine the effectiveness of specific treatments that reduce methane emissions. Other researchers are using GreenFeed to monitor whole herd CH4 emissions that result from varied management practices.

  • Once effective ruminant methane reduction strategies have been identified in research facilities, GreenFeed can be used to document and quantify actual reductions achieved over long time periods in commercial production facilities.

    Our staff is experienced in writing successful scientific proposals. We are happy to collaborate with you to develop proposals that include new, innovative research studies involving GreenFeed.

Founders Dioxide emissions in any cattle system!

Dr. Patrick Zimmerman, the founder of C-Lock Inc., has worked more than 35 years in the environmental research field. Before founding C-Lock Inc., Dr. Zimmerman was a professor and the Director of the Institute of Atmospheric Sciences at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. Prior to that, he was a Senior Scientist and Section Head at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. Dr. Zimmerman's work has resulted in the authorship of more than 100 papers in the refereed scientific literature, and in seven granted patents with more pending. Dr. Zimmerman received his Ph.D. in Rangeland Systems Ecology from Colorado State University. His Ph.D. was mentored by, and he worked closely for several years with Dr. Paul Crutzen, one of three co-winners of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Atmospheric Chemistry. Zimmerman’s research has focused on measuring and understanding the complex interactions among the earth's biological, chemical and atmospheric systems. Over his career, Dr. Zimmerman has received dozens of grants and contracts from many federal agencies and he has consulted for several NGOs and businesses. Scott Zimmerman worked in the utility industry for 10 years. He has a Bachelors degree in Civil Engineering from Washington State University, and a Master's Degree in Water Resource Engineering from the University of Iowa. He has significant experience in data analysis and numerical modeling and has worked on several different studies related to increasing power generation efficiency and minimizing ecological impacts of hydro-power generation. Scott has also worked in the environmental compliance and reporting field, and has experience in measuring and reporting pollutant emissions to state and local agencies.

Advanced technology for the cow of the future

C-Lock Inc. Dioxide emissions in any cattle system!

2951 N Plaza Dr.

Rapid City, SD 57702


2951 N Plaza Dr.

Rapid City, SD 57702


The world’s first online system to measure Methane emissions