Australian scientists aim to reduce sheep burps
Sunday 29 November 2009
Australian scientists are working to breed a sheep that belches less, as they look for ways to reduce harmful methane emissions from the country's woolly flocks, a researcher said Sunday.
Twelve percent of Australia's total greenhouse gas emissions originate with agriculture, and some 70 percent of that amount is blamed on ruminant livestock, with most of it coming from burps, study leader John Goopy said.
With sheep, almost all of the methane produced comes out of their mouths.
"There's not very much passed out the animal's anus at all," said Goopy, from the New South Wales Department of Industry and Investment.
Scientists are measuring the sheep's methane emissions by herding them into a specially designed booth shortly after they eat and then calculating the amount of gas belched.
They hope to find whether there is a genetic link between the sheep that produce the least methane, which could then be exploited to breed low-emissions sheep.
Of the 200 sheep so far tested, about half produced much more than average while the other half belched considerably less methane.
"The biggest single determinant of methane production in cattle and sheep is the amount of feed they eat. But even once that is taken into account, I have found significant differences between individual animals," Goopy told AFP.
The scientist said methane has about 17 times the environmental warming capacity of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas blamed for global warming.
He said if the methane produced by Australia's 80 million or so sheep was reduced by just 10 or 15 percent in the next decade, it would have "a substantial and also a long-term impact on our greenhouse gas emissions".
"And if we can find a hereditary link and specifically breed for that outcome it will be an ongoing reduction, it won't be a one-off."
Geoffrey Macnab does not like the comedian's big screen debut
Look beyond the usual shows for the best festive telly
The battle for control of Stieg Larsson's £30m legacy
Plants ‘could stop being brake on global warming’
The 10 best folding bikes
The good news: there has been a dramatic increase in Arctic sea ice. The bad news: it's still half the level is was in the 1980s
‘Hell for animals’: Egypt's Giza Zoo beset by tear gas, bear ‘riots’ and giraffe ‘suicide’
10 best hiking boots
- 1 Bonuses for goals and top four finish as Luiz Suarez joins Premier League's top three earners
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 #Teamnigella: It’s the only side to be on
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 5 Burglar steals video tapes of child abuse, hands them into police
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
Anachronistic and iniquitous, grammar schools are a blot on the British education system
- < Previous
- Next >
£25000 - £35000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: PHP Deve...
£40000 - £55000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: This Big 4 giant is seeking ...
£35000 - £50000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have personal tax exp...
£22000 - £37000 per annum: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: This se...