May 5, 2023
Research finds that gene selection can cut 30% of cattle emissions
A study funded by Ireland's Department of Agriculture has found that gene selection can cut 30% of cattle emissions, Irish Farmers Journal reported.
The Greenbreed study, conducted by Teagasc, the Southeast Technological University (STU), Munster Technological University (MTU) and the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF), found that different cattle emit more or less daily methane emissions on the same diet, depending on their genetics.
Researchers discovered that the 20% highest-emitting animals genetically emit 30% more methane per day than the 20% lowest-emitting animals. They said that the genetics of the cattle account for 11% of the differences in emissions.
Enteric emissions, or methane produced in cattle stomachs, account for roughly half of all agricultural emissions in Ireland.
A 30% reduction in such emissions would result in a 15% reduction in overall emissions for the farm sector, a significant step towards the sector's 25% target for 2030.
Ireland's Minister of Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and Minister of State Martin Heydon said that research shows that methane emissions from the Irish cattle herd can be reduced through animal genetics.
Minister McConalogue said the research results also highlight the potential to breed more environmentally sustainable animals while not negatively impacting the animal's performance and profitability.
Minister Heydon described the research as a "global first" for the Irish beef industry.
Minister Heydon said adoption of these advances and other breeding initiatives in the National Cattle Breeding Programme will play a part in enhancing the viability of Irish farms and furthering Ireland's reputation for producing milk and beef products to the highest environmental standards.
- Irish Farmers Journal