To Reduce Emissions, Aussie Scientists May Breed Burp-less Sheep

by | Jan 18, 2010

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sheepAustralian scientists hold out hope that breeding a burp-less sheep can help the country reduce its emissions.

The scientists are testing different strains of sheep to find out which belch less methane, reports the Herald Sun. If the scientists can determine if a particular gene controls methane production, they may be able to selectively breed sheep to belch less and less methane.

They also are considering a similar program for cattle.

Agriculture contributes up 16 percent of Australia’s emissions, with about 66 percent of that amount derived from livestock. About two-thirds of the livestock emissions are from grazing animals such as sheep and cattle, according to the article.

While breeding a truly burp-less sheep is a far-off goal, scientists say that even a 10 percent reduction in methane production would help matters.

In the U.S., organic dairy Stonyfield Farm has found a way to reduce methane emissions 12 percent by adjusting the cattle feed mix so it produces fewer burps.

Separately, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy are working together to help the U.S. dairy industry reach its goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 25 percent over the next decade. One part of the strategy is to turn methane gas from livestock manure into electricity.

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