Monday, November 12, 2012

Reducing methane production from sheep

The same digestive system that allows ruminant livestock to convert unusable plant material into nutritious food and fiber also produces methane, a greenhouse gas.

Methane is a by-product of rumination.
Research in Australia has shown that methane production in sheep is heritable, at a level of 0.15 or 15 percent. The Australians plan to develop breeding values for methane production as a way of genetically identifying animals that are better at using energy from feed.

There are two potential benefits to reducing methane production in sheep. Sheep that utilize feed more efficiently will require less feed, which reduces production costs. Animals that use their feed more efficiently are likely to produce less methane per unit of wool or meat, which would help a country achieve its carbon emissions targets.

Another way to reduce methane production in livestock is to add some anti-methanogenic compound (e.g. condensed tannins) to the daily ration, but this may not be practical where livestock are grazed under extensive conditions.

Read article from Stock & Land

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