Cows cannot just stop burping methane

Published on
January 23, 2017

Therefore we at Wageningen Livestock Research aim to reduce their methane emission through burping with genetics!

Invited by the Journal of Dairy Science, scientists of the METHAGENE-consortium have written a review on “Phenotypes to genetically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in dairying”. Dairy cows are a great contributor of methane from the rumination of feed. One mitigation strategy is to reduce this enteric methane emission through genetic selection. Possible direct phenotypes and indicators such as feed intake and milk spectral data that can be used to select for reducing methane emission are reviewed in the paper.

Many of these traits are expensive and/or hard to record, and therefore limited available within a country. International collaboration to combine methane records of multiple countries in one database is essential in order to make progress in the area of reducing methane emission by breeding. Click here to watch the paper’s pitch by Yvette de Haas.

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas (GHG) that contributes to global warming. The livestock sector, particularly ruminants, is estimated to contribute up to 18% of total global anthropogenic GHG emissions. The fast majority of the total methane emission by ruminants is caused by emitted enteric methane. So, even a small reduction by genetic improvements will have a huge impact on the global methane emission reduction.

Click here to see Yvette de Haas explaining about her passion for breeding of improved livestock efficiency.