Bid To Breed Cattle Which Are More Feed Efficient And Emit Less Methane

Breeding animals that utilise feed better and which emit less methane is the aim of a two-year research study of 300 cattle at the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) progeny test centre in Tully, Co Kildare.

To measure methane emissions, two GreenFeed systems have been installed in Tully.

One of the cattle in the research project at the ICBF progeny test centre in Co Kildare, where methane emissions are measured, in a bid to breed more efficient, low-emission cattle

One of the cattle in the research project at the ICBF progeny test centre in Co Kildare, where methane emissions are measured, in a bid to breed more efficient, low-emission cattle

Each animal is fitted with an RFID ear tag which allows the GreenFeed to identify it individually.

As the animal approaches the GreenFeed, a small amount of feed is dispensed for three minutes to attract the animal and keep it positioned at the machine.

While the animal is feeding, the GreenFeed estimates its methane emissions by extracting the air around the animal’s head and filtering it through a sensor.

Contrary to popular belief, ruminants exhale most of the methane they produce, hence the GreenFeed estimates emissions from the breath of the animal.

Methane is a greenhouse gas produced by rumen microbes known as methanogens, and is a normal by-product of ruminant fermentation.

This methane accounts for nearly 40% of agriculture’s emissions.

The end goal of the project is to discover if an animal’s genetic make-up can help to explain differences between the methane emissions of animals.

Such findings could be included in national and international programmes for breeding cattle with a more efficient rumen microbiome.

Along with genetic or genotyping analysis, rumen microbial analysis will be performed to determine differences in the microbiomes of high and low emitting animals.

The project addresses the need to sustainably feed an ever-increasing global population while minimising negative impacts on the environment.

The production of methane is energy-inefficient, resulting in 6%-12% of the animal’s gross energy intake being diverted away towards methanogenesis.

Feed efficiency and methane production are related; it has been shown that cattle which are more feed-efficient emit less methane. This is one of the reasons why climate mitigation can improve farm profitability and efficiency.

The project is funded by ERA-GAS which is part of ERA-NET and Horizon2020.

(Source – Irish Examiner – Farming – Stephen Cadogan – 22/10/2019)

Related Article:

Compelling Business Case Sent To Government, As Gas Networks Ireland Starts Using Farm Gas

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Rural Enterprise Skillnet
Rural Enterprise Skillnet

The Rural Enterprise Skillnet is funded by member companies and the Training Networks Programme, an initiative of Skillnets Ltd. funded from the National Training Fund through the Department of Education and Skills.

Read More