In this file:
· A way to reduce methane from cows lies in selective breeding
· Study Shows Potential for Reduced Methane from Cows
A way to reduce methane from cows lies in selective breeding
By Daniel T Cross, Sustainability Times
July 7, 2019
A fully grown cow produces anywhere between 70kg and 120kg of methane gas, depending on variables like its diet. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 23 times more potent than CO2 when it comes to its effects on the climate. There are 1.5 billion heads of cattle on the planet.
You do the math.
Cattle, and other ruminants, contribute well over a third (37%) manmade methane emissions and one way to reduce those massive emissions is to reduce the number of cows. That’s easier said than done, though, because entire industries depend on cattle in numerous countries and people worldwide love beef and milk products.
An international team of scientists has another solution: selective breeding.
They conducted a study of 1,000 dairy cows in four European countries to find out how ruminant microbiomes can be controlled in host animals in order to reduce flatulence and thus methane emissions.
“What we showed is that the level and type of methane-producing microbes in the cow is to a large extent controlled by the cow’s genetic makeup,” says Prof. John Williams, an expert at the University of Adelaide’s School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences who was a coauthor of the study.
“That means we could select for cattle which are less likely to have high levels of methane-producing bacteria in their rumen,” he adds.
To gain a comprehensive image, the researchers analyzed the microbiomes, via fluid samples, of those 1,000 cows. They also measured their feed intake, milk production, methane emissions and other biochemical characteristics. The idea is that we could select cows for breeding that produce less methane so that their offspring will do so too...
Study Shows Potential for Reduced Methane from Cows
The Cattle Site
08 July 2019
GLOBAL - An international team of scientists has shown it is possible to breed cattle to reduce their methane emissions.
Published in the journal Science Advances, the researchers showed that the genetics of an individual cow strongly influenced the make-up of the microorganisms in its rumen (the first stomach in the digestive system of ruminant animals which include cattle and sheep).
"What we showed is that the level and type of methane-producing microbes in the cow is to a large extent controlled by the cow's genetic makeup," says one of the project's leaders and co-author Professor John Williams, from the University of Adelaide's School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences. "That means we could select for cattle which are less likely to have high levels of methane-producing bacteria in their rumen."
Cattle and other ruminants are significant producers of the greenhouse gas methane - contributing 37 per cent of the methane emissions resulting from human activity. A single cow on average produces between 70 and 120 kg of methane per year and, worldwide, there are about 1.5 billion cattle.
The study comes out of a project called RuminOmics, led by the Rowett Institute at the University of Aberdeen and involving the Parco Tecnologico Padano in Italy (where Professor Williams used to work), the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, and a number of other institutions in Europe and the US.
The researchers analysed the microbiomes from ruminal fluid samples of 1000 cows, along with measuring the cows' feed intake, milk production, methane production and other biochemical characteristics. Although this study was carried out on dairy cows, the heritability of the types of microbes in the rumen should also apply to beef cattle.
"Previously we knew it was possible to reduce methane emissions by changing the diet," says Professor Williams. "But changing the genetics is much more significant - in this way we can select for cows that permanently produce less methane."
Professor Williams says breeding for low-methane cattle will, however, depend on selection priorities and how much it compromises selection for other desired characteristics such as meat quality, milk production or disease resistance...