Australian scientists aim to reduce sheep burps

30-11-2009 | |
Australian scientists aim to reduce sheep burps

Australian scientists are working to breed a sheep that belches less, as they look for ways to reduce harmful methane emissions from the country’s woolly flocks.

With sheep, almost all of the methane produced comes out of their mouths, according to study leader John Goopy. He and his team are now trying to measure the sheep’s methane emissions by herding them into a specially designed booth shortly after they eat and then calculating the amount of gas belched.

They hope to find whether there is a genetic link between the sheep that produce the least methane, which could then be exploited to breed low-emissions sheep. Of the 200 sheep so far tested, about half produced much more than average while the other half belched considerably less methane.

Goopy said if the methane produced by Australia’s 80 million or so sheep was reduced by just 10 or 15 percent in the next decade, it would have "a substantial and also a long-term impact on our greenhouse gas emissions"

[Source: AFP]

Emmy Koeleman Freelance editor