Cows are responsible for nearly three-quarters of total methane emissions, according to Environment Canada, and most of the gas comes from bovine burps, which are 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. So, Stephen Moore, a professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, is examining the genes responsible for methane produced from a cow’s four stomachs in order to breed more efficient, environmentally friendly cows, according to Reuters.
The professor of agricultural, food and nutritional science completed primary tests using traditional techniques to breed efficient animals that produce 25% less methane than less efficient animals, but more work needs to be done before the long-term impact is known. Moore’s study was published earlier this year in the Journal of Animal Science.
Moore also said that to shrink cattle’s ecological footprint ranchers could also decrease the time cows are left standing in the field by getting animals to market sooner – meaning breeding cattle that grow faster. Also, through breeding, cattle could become more efficient in converting feed into muscle and producing less methane and waste.
Another method already being used to reduce methane emissions is feeding livestock a diet higher in energy and rich in edible oils, which ferment less than grass or low-quality feed, the news report said.
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