Wool News: Genetics breakthrough on measuring methane levels emitted by sheep
New Zealand farmers are the first in the world able to breed low methane-emitting sheep.
A ten year breeding programme funded by the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGGRC) and the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre resulted in a breeding value for methane emissions.
AgResearch scientist Dr Suzanne Rowe led the research. She says comparing flocks separated into low and high emitting, on average there was a difference of 11 per cent of methane emitted per unit of feed between high and low methane emitters, with no apparent difference in the health, productivity or profitability of the respective sheep.
“We are seeing more lean growth, carcass yield and wool production in the low methane sheep, without any negative trade-offs.”
This breeding programme, which confirmed methane emissions are heritable, allowed for the establishment of a breeding value for the trait incorporated onto Sheep Improvement Limited database (now nProve) last year.
Stud breeders have embraced the opportunity to measure the methane emissions in their stud animals.
Information from Beef+Lamb New Zealand. More detail: