Australian Scientists Aim to Curb Sheep from Burping Greenhouse Gases

GLEN INNES, Australia, Nov. 29 (UPI) — Australian scientists say they’re confident sheep can be selectively bred to burp less methane — a greenhouse gas emission.

Farming in Australia produces about 16 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, with two-thirds of that produced by cattle, sheep, goats and horses, said John Goopy of the New South Wales Department of Industry.

It’s a myth that most methane produced by sheep comes from flatulence, Goopy told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. in a story published Sunday.

“Ninety percent of the methane that sheep and cattle and goats produce comes from the rumen, and that’s burped out,” he said. “Not much goes behind; that’s horses,” he said.

Scientists in Glen Innes are testing 200 sheep from 20 varying sires to see which breed produced the least amount of methane, said Roger Hegarty of the Sheep Cooperative Research Council.

Each sheep is fed, then shepherded into a booth so researchers can get an exact reading of their burp output, Hegarty said.

“We’re looking for natural variations so we’ll steer the population that way, he said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Categorized | Animals
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